It′s All for Sale

The Control of Global Resources

It′s All for Sale

Book Pages: 272 Illustrations: Published: December 2004

Author: James Ridgeway

Activism, Environmental Studies, Globalization and Neoliberalism

Five companies dominate the U.S. petroleum industry. Five control the worldwide trade in grain. Two have a corner on the private market for drinking water. In terms of actual dollars, trade in heroin, cocaine, and tobacco ranks alongside that in grain or metals. There are more slaves in the world today than ever before. Resource by resource, It’s All for Sale uncovers and discloses who owns, buys, and sells what. Some resources—such as fuel, metals, fertilizers, drugs, fibers, food, forests, and flowers—have, for better or worse, long been thought of as commodities. Others—including fresh water, human beings, the sky, the oceans, and life itself (in the form of genetic codes)—are more startling to think of as products with price tags, but, as James Ridgeway shows, they are treated as such on a massive scale in lucrative markets around the world. 

Revealing the surprisingly small number of companies that control many of the basic commodities we use in everyday life, It’s All for Sale confirms in specific detail that globalization has been accompanied by an extraordinary concentration of ownership. At the same time, it is about much more than what company has cornered the market in corn or diamonds. Corporations and captains of industry, wars and swindles, oppressors and the oppressed, empires and colonies, military might and commercial power, economic boom and bust—all these come alive in Ridgeway’s canny and arresting reporting about the global scramble for power and profit. It’s All for Sale is an invaluable source for researchers, activists, and all those concerned with globalization, corporate power, and the exploitation of individuals and the environment.


“Ridgeway uses a common sense and readable style to communicate his thesis. Surprisingly, although the book is highly factual, it reads as a novel and flows well from discussions of historical background to current financial and foreign policy. Not only is the book informative, it is also enjoyable.” — Iris Augusten , Natural Resources Journal

"It's All for Sale is most valuable as a reference work--a lean but handy encylopedia of our age's relentless blending of utilitarianism and greed." — Michael W. Robbins , Mother Jones

"[C]over[s] everything that an intelligent reader would want to know about commodity markets."
— Dennis Pirages , Perspectives on Political Science

"By laying out our possessions' material origins, the book should earn a place in homes next to other popular reference works like The Book of Lists. Ridgeway offers a canon of information that anyone might want to know and teach their kids. Plus, his book is skimmable, good to pick up for short sittings. . . . Like The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Ridgeway's book condenses knowledge of specific information essential to our culture--and which few discuss." — Matthew Fleischer-Black, The Village Voice

"Ridgeway gives appalling examples of how a shrinking number of big corporations suck up our nation's agricultural welfare programs." — Tom Pelton , Baltimore Sun

"The book is organized commodity by commodity. Ridgeway gives a brief, and sometimes fascinating, description of the usefulness and history of each substance, its exploitation by the few and its inevitable depletion." — Publishers Weekly

"The book is very useful in summarizing the present status and recent trends regarding the world's most important resources. . . . Recommend. All collections." — W. C. Struning , Choice

“James Ridgeway is one of our most astute and bold social critics, and in this book he puts his sharp pen to use in making us aware of how so many things in the world, including human beings themselves, are being turned into something for profit. It is a needed wake-up call, and I hope it will startle us into resisting the commodification of our world.” — Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States

“James Ridgeway’s It’s All for Sale is a wake-up call to the human community of the consequences of an economic system whose appetites for raw material is limitless, and in which there are no limits, no boundaries about what is a commodity and what is not. The privatization and enclosure of biodiversity, of water, of air and the trade in human beings and human organs are indicators that we could be witnessing an end of being human. Essential reading for the ecology movement, the justice movement, the peace movement, and all who believe ‘Our world is not for sale.’” — Vandana Shiva, founder of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Ecology in New Delhi, India

“There are few matters more important than the one James Ridgeway addresses in this essential book: the commodification of natural resources and of life itself. From water to kidneys to human beings, there is little the modern corporation hasn’t figured out how to turn to private profit. Read this book before it’s too late.” — Sam Smith, author of Why Bother? Getting a Life in a Locked-down Land


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Price: $26.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

James Ridgeway is a staff writer for The Village Voice. Among his many books are The Pocket Guide to Environmental Bad Guys (with Jeffrey St. Claire); Red Light: Inside the Sex Industry (with Sylvia Plachy); Blood in the Face: The Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations, Nazi Skinheads, and the Rise of a New White Culture; and Powering Civilization: The Complete Energy Reader.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Introduction ix

Fresh Water 1

Fuels 9

Metals 41

Forests 81

Fibers 89

Fertilizers 97

Foods 100

Flowers 143

Drugs 149

Human Beings 167

The Sky 191

The Oceans 198

Biodiversity 205

Notes 211

Bibliography 227

Index 235
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3374-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3426-2
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