Gentleman robber

In a word, fantastic: Associate Professor of History Michael Kwass' second book recounts the smuggling career of Louis Mandrin, the 18th-century Frenchman who became a Robin Hood folk hero, alongside the emerging consumer revolution. In the process, Kwass argues that the concept of illegal trade is intimately tied up with the economies that evolved into modern Western states. Contraband: Louis Mandrin and the Making of a Global Underground (Harvard University Press, 2014) gets at its big ideas through the small, detailed stories of illicit activity, which Kwass often conveys in swashbuckling yet lucid prose. An exhaustively researched and compelling read.

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