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Rum: A Social and Sociable History of the Real Spirit of 1776

Rum: A Social and Sociable History of the Real Spirit of 1776 [Kindle Edition]

Ian Williams
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

Ian Williams describes in captivating detail how Rum and the molasses that it was made from was to the 18th century what oil is today. Rum was used by the colonists to clear Native American tribes and to buy slaves. To make it, they regularly traded with the enemy French during the Seven Years' War, angering their British masters and setting themselves on the road to Revolution. The regular flow of rum was essential to keeping both armies in the field since soldiers relied on rum to keep up their fighting spirits. Even though the Puritans themselves were fond of rum in quantities that would appall modern day doctors, temperance and Prohibition have obscured the historical role of the "Global Spirit with its warm heart in the Caribbean." Ian Williams' book triumphantly restores rum's rightful place in history, taking us across space and time, from its origins in the plantations of Barbados through Puritan and Revolutionary New England, to voodoo rites in modern Haiti, where to mix rum with Coke risks invoking the wrath of the god, and across the Florida straits where Fidel and the Bacardi family are still fighting over the rights for the ingredients of Cuba Libre.

About the Author

Ian Williams is The Nation magazine's UN Correspondent and the author of DESERTER: George Bush's War on Military Families, Veterans and His Own Past. Since becoming interested in rum he has amassed a collection of "rumabilia;" books, pamphlets, prints, advertising ephemera, bottles and decanters, hundreds of rum labels from all over the world, and not least, a growing collection of rum, from Croatia to Thailand, from Kazakhstan to India, from Hawaii to Argentina. Williams lives in New York City.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1371 KB
  • Print Length: 370 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1560258918
  • Publisher: Nation Books (18 Aug 2006)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004OA64UM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #300,537 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Rum through the eyes of a historian 7 July 2011
This is a good book written through the eyes of a historian. Whilst littered with a few memorable stories i found that the writer is very much biased in his view of rum and it's place in history. I found the first 50 something pages somewhat dull as it was mainly the sugar trade and it"s origins. I appreciate this was a large part of rums humble beginnings but 50 odd pages seemed excessive and not that exciting to read. Overall the book is well structured and provides good insight to rum and it's history. Even though the writer briefly expresses his passion for rum I feel the book is presented more as a view from a historian rather than from a knowledgable drinker.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars fAST AND NICE 6 April 2010
By D. Ba
im happy wth the book, i got it very fast and in good conditions, and wow the book is a joy to read. thx
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book overall, but not stellar 27 May 2008
By Justin Gifford - Published on
Rum: A Social and Sociable History of the Real Spirit of 1776 does a decent job of painting the picture of rum in the lives of early American colonists. It's been praised as "rambunctious, rollicking history, sodden with tasty lore," (Kirkus Reviews), but I find the writing style a little lackluster, actually. The play on spirits (distilled alcohol), spirited (lively), and spiritual (in a religious context) can only be funny for so long, but Williams stretches it to the last drop. A minor quibble, though the author does occasionally give in to the temptation to use as much verbiage as possible without ending a sentence. It gives the book a much less scholarly attitude that it would otherwise have had.

That said, the information Williams presents is interesting, in its context. The author's focus is clearly early American history, which is not unreasonable, given that rum's very origin was in the New World, the Americas. However, the reader is occasionally left with the feeling that there may be a broader context he is missing out on. Of course, the title of the book does limit the focus, but limiting the focus of a book which is already very narrow in scope (rum, as a topic, is not especially broad compared to, say, trade in general, or even alcohol in general) doesn't help matters. Williams occasionally seems to be a little bit too eager to prove his points, sometimes grasping at straws; however, in a book about a subject often lacking in documentary evidence, some conjecture is not out of place.

Williams cites most of the same sources most other histories of rum use, mainly because there aren't many solid primary sources out there. He then proceeds into less murky areas, to the American Revolution and rum's role therein (which he exaggerates from time to time). The very end of the book contains a few short chapters about rum in different locales, and he closes with a brief chapter regarding the US Prohibition era. There is also a section of black-and-white pictures, including vintage advertisements.

All in all, Ian Williams' Rum is quite readable, and worth having in your collection, if you do indeed have a collection of this sort of book. If my review has sounded somewhat tepid, it's only because I have since read other treatments of the subject that I find better; another good addition to your liquor library would be Wayne Curtis' And a Bottle of Rum. But if you'd like a light read, and you're in no danger of taking everything you read at face value, A Social and Sociable History is worth picking up. I'd give it 3.5 stars, but Amazon won't allow it.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Proceed With Caution 4 Sep 2013
By Cynthia Clampitt - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If I could have, I would have given this 2-1/2 stars -- but I couldn't really give it three. This is a period of history and a topic I have studied at some length, and while there were some interesting facts and solid quotes, there are enough errors that I would never consider picking anything up to use in a lecture without checking at least one other source. A couple of examples: he attributes the Coffey still to Andreas Coffey, but it's Aeneas Coffey. Kind of an amateur mistake. More problematic is the author's snarkiness in many places, which is compounded by being wrong -- such as when he quotes a satirical poem by William Cowper, stating that the poem demonstrates Cowper's approval of slavery (or, as the author states it, "he struggled with his conscience and lost"). Cowper was an abolitionist who wrote the satirical poem at the request of William Wilberforce -- the man who fought slavery his whole life and eventually got slavery banned throughout the British empire. To have attributed to Cowper a pro-slavery stance based on this satire (which laments that one would have to live without sugar and rum if slavery were ended) makes me wonder how many other things he may have misinterpreted.

So I'd suggest that, if you really know this topic and want some new facts (though you'd want to double check them), this is a good source, especially of lengthy quotes from a handful of early rum and Caribbean historians. However, if you only care enough to read one book, I'd definitely recommend William Curtis's "And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in 10 Cocktails" over this book -- it's more accurate and it's a much more entertaining read.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful read 5 Oct 2005
By D. A. Johnson - Published on
Ian Williams sheds light on the role of the sugary distillation in shaping America in the Revolution and thereafter. The book is filled with juicy anecdotes and tales. You will have a new respect for rum after reading this amusing and enlightening book
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rum...Enjoyment in Literature 24 May 2006
By Todd Elliott - Published on
This is a fantastic book. It is a history book that reads like a novel. I had no idea that the history of "Kill-Devil" was so convoluted and storied. Mr. Williams clearly not only understands his subject,but is passionate about it. I recommend this book to every armcahair alcoholics who love their booze and love thier history. It never hurts to know what you're getting into, or what's geting into you.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great History of Rum 31 Oct 2007
By Christopher Carlsson - Published on
This is not only a scholarly piece of work, but a immensely readable one. Full of history and political commentary covering over 250 years of rum, world politics and of course, drinking. It is an engaging read, full of history and a great reference but with enough humor to be recreational rather than required reading on the subject.

The piece on Bacardi towards the end of the book will make it stunningly obvious why Bacardi bought Grey Goose.
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rum is more than just a beverage, having spiritual as well as spirituous connotations. &quote;
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