Bart Elmore

© Jonathan Zadra


Bart Elmore is associate professor of environmental history at The Ohio State University and the 2022 recipient of the Dan David Prize. His previous books include Citizen Coke: The Making of Coca-Cola Capitalism and Seed Money: Monsanto’s Past and Our Food Future.




11:00 am to 11:45 am
State Library, Fourth Floor
Origin Stories: How Time and Place Affect Decisions and Outcomes
with Bart Elmore, James Hoogerwerf, and moderator David Johnson

Noon to 12:45 pm
Cavalier House Books Tent
Book Signing


Country Capitalism: How Corporations from the American South Remade Our Economy and the Planet

The rural roads that led to our planet-changing global economy ran through the American South. That region's impact on the interconnected histories of business and ecological change is narrated here by acclaimed scholar Bart Elmore, who uses the histories of five southern firms—Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, Walmart, FedEx, and Bank of America—to investigate the environmental impact of our have-it-now, fly-by-night, buy-on-credit economy. Drawing on exclusive interviews with company executives, corporate archives, and other records, Elmore explores the historical, economic, and ecological conditions that gave rise to these five trailblazing corporations. He then considers what each has become: an essential presence in the daily workings of the global economy and an unmistakable contributor to the reshaping of the world's ecosystems. Even as businesses invest in sustainability initiatives and respond to new calls for corporate responsibility, Elmore shows the limits of their efforts to "green" their operations and offers insights on how governments and activists can push corporations to do better.

At the root, Elmore reveals a fundamental challenge: Our lives are built around businesses that connect far-flung rural places to urban centers and global destinations. This "country capitalism" that proved successful in the US South has made it possible to satisfy our demands at the click of a button, but each click comes with hidden environmental costs. This book is a must-read for anyone who hopes to create an ecologically sustainable future economy.


". . . . Even-handed, informative . . . . A compelling argument that companies are willing but not eager to fight climate change." - Kirkus Reviews

“This engaging and important book reveals how five of today’s most influential global corporations developed from common roots in the US South and are implicated in exacerbating ecological change, especially climate warming. For its contributions to the history of American business and environmental history, and for the ways it highlights the ecological impact of economic development in the South and beyond, Elmore’s work deserves a broad audience.” - Ellen Griffith Spears, author of Baptized in PCBs: Race, Pollution, and Justice in an All-American Town

"Bart Elmore shows us that many of the nation's most innovative corporations sprang from the soil of the rural South to transform global capitalism and the global environment in distinctive and troubling ways. Country Capitalism is a brilliant account of the region's surprisingly expansive—and destructive—reach." - Paul S. Sutter, author of Let Us Now Praise Famous Gullies: Providence Canyon and the Soils of the South


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