by Jim Crace
This is the only fiction book I have in this section at the moment and it is a gem.
Set in medieval times, the story concerns a village about to be enclosed for sheep farming.
So powerful re-reading the words of Thomas More from ‘Utopia’ now I understand the historical context of his words.
The first part of the book is largely a critique of the society around him written in a fictional form to protect him from persecution…
“your sheep that were wont to be so meek and tame, and so small eaters, now, as I heard say, be become so great devourers and so wild, that they eat up, and swallow down the very men themselves.”
In short, communities were deprived of their access to land to make way for sheep. The wool from these sheep became the first resource to be mass produced and traded leading to massive accumulation of excess capital in the hands of a few large landowners.
This excess capital could be invested in ships which laid the foundation for empires and slavery bringing along the second big accumulation of excess capital.
Read the wikipedia entry here – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utopia_(book)