David Taylor writes about revealing connections between people and their worlds. His writing about people, food, health and science has appeared in Smithsonian, The Washington Post, The Village Voice, Outside, The Christian Science Monitor, Science, and Oxford American.
My new book, CORK WARS (Johns Hopkins University Press, fall 2018), is a history involving World War II, immigration and cork, described briefly here. It’s a story about how cork–from cork oak forests around the Mediterranean–was a big deal in the mid-20th century. It was so big that when Germany cut supplies with the Atlantic blockade, cork companies and their workers got caught up in the life-and-death geopolitical struggle. What began as a simple trade in bark and bottle caps quickly grew into a global drama with sabotage, espionage, and profiteering.
Little-known fact: at the middle of the 20th century the United States imported nearly half the world’s cork. It was crucial for the defense industry’s wartime production of planes, ships and equipment. For years during World War II and after, Arbor Day celebrations across the U.S. featured governors and other officials intoning to live and radio audiences how citizens could help keep America free by planting a cork oak. In response, 4-H groups, boy scouts and garden clubs requested the seedlings and planted trees to do their patriotic duty.