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Sugar A Bittersweet History
 
 

Sugar A Bittersweet History [Kindle Edition]

Elizabeth Abbott
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Review

'A highly readable and comprehensive study of a remarkable product... rare eloquence and passion... a must-read' --Independent

'Reading this graphic tale of the global havoc sugar has caused and continues to cause, you might wonder why sugar is not a banned substance; it seems to have done as much harm as opium or heroin... [Abbott's] style is vivid and she's done her research, right back to her sugar plantation Antiguan ancestors. It's a good read - but it might stay your hand next time you reach for a chocolate biscuit to enjoy with your coffee' --Irish Times

'Zestful... belongs to that recent genre of food histories which have had huge public appeal... Abbott's breezy and energetic style will doubtless find an enthusiastic readership among people keen to make sense of the world around them via the history of this remarkable commodity' - BBC History. --BBC History

Review

'A highly readable and comprehensive study of a remarkable product... rare eloquence and passion... a must-read' - Independent. 'Fascinating' - Daily Mail. 'Reading this graphic tale of the global havoc sugar has caused and continues to cause, you might wonder why sugar is not a banned substance; it seems to have done as much harm as opium or heroin... [Abbott's] style is vivid and she's done her research, right back to her sugar plantation Antiguan ancestors. It's a good read - but it might stay your hand next time you reach for a chocolate biscuit to enjoy with your coffee' - Irish Times. 'Zestful... belongs to that recent genre of food histories which have had huge public appeal... Abbott's breezy and energetic style will doubtless find an enthusiastic readership among people keen to make sense of the world around them via the history of this remarkable commodity' - BBC History. 'The blood-drenched history of sugar is carefully mapped in Elizabeth Abbot's impressive overview, which is guaranteed to make you choke on your chocolate - Enlightening and as dismaying as a sugar crash' - Metro. 'Read it and you'll never stir sugar into your coffee or sprinkle it over your berries in quite the same mindless way. I promise' - Montreal Gazette. 'Brilliant and assiduously researched. Abbott writes about the history of sugar with a fluid, fierce narrative power and a vengeful intelligence. Her personal stake in the story - via her own recently discovered West Indian heritage - makes the book all the more compelling' - Quill & Quire. 'A richly dramatic and fascinating history of how sugar Africanized the New World' - Sun Times.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4068 KB
  • Print Length: 464 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003839DQI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #206,490 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bringing a new perspective to our history 16 Jun 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
After a recent visit to Antigua, I became interested in Carribbean history and heard about Bittersweet on the Book Show (Sky Arts 2). I am not a great reader of non-fiction and even less of history, but I just couldn't put this book down. I thought I knew about slavery, but the history of human degradation (both slave and master) connected to the sugar plantations took my breath away. Many of the quotes and anecdotes were coming from my British ancestors. I kept reading in the hope that things would get better, but unfortunately it seems that sugar and forced labour are hopelessly interwined. Humans counted only in terms of their economic value, much in the way factory farmed animals count today.

Elizabeth Abbott offers a fascinating insight into how sugar has shaped our environment, economic system, consumerism and lifestyle. I had no idea how influential the sugar industry has been on so many aspects of culture and heritage.

I would have liked more information on the part sugar plays in our society today and how it has affected our health. Maybe this will be the sequel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing account of genocide on a global scale 28 Oct 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a riveting account of a substance so successfully branded and marketed as being 'natural' and 'pure' that almost no questions are asked about the methods of production. Yet the history of sugar is mired in the worst excesses of mercantilism and colonialism. In the Caribbean region alone, the number of slaves involved in sugar production ran into many millions. They had only to remain productive for about three years for the plantation owners to make a profit on their 'investment'. Given the eighteen or twenty hour working days, inadequate or barely edible 'food', the mosquitoes, disease, insanitary living conditions, lack of health care, routine floggings, and other (worse) abuses and 'punishments', that these poor people endured, that they lasted that long is quite incredible.

The major players were the usual suspects: Portugal, Spain, France, the Netherlands, the United States and ESPECIALLY, Britain. Imperial Britain made the other countries look like bungling amateurs when it came to slavery.

Nor did abuse end with the 'abolishment' of slavery: the all-powerful sugar companies (referred to as 'Big Sugar') and their tame government lackeys, simply reinvented the practise under indentured labour. The enslavement of people, in order to put sugar on the white man's table, continues to this day.

This book might have warranted 5 stars except for a short section in the final chapter. Ms Abbott, possibly looking for something good to say about sugar after almost 400 pages of documenting is utterly appalling history, offered ethanol from sugar as a possible alternative fuel to oil.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
This book would appeal to many. It's an insightful acount of how sugar has got into everything you eat... you probably eat sugar or a sugar type substance in some food at least once a day. Just try and get away from it......

After reading this book, it's changed my approach to foods and sugar. Do you need it in your diet..... I think not (unless you do serious sports post training sessions). It is and should be classed as a luxury, not a common additiveto make food taste better. I've cut sugar out of my diet as much as possible after reading this book due to it's history and increasing my own understanding today's issues.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 24 Sep 2011
Format:Paperback
Just finished reading this book and was it a struggle. Many of the facts were new and interesting but equally, many were well known. Despite the impressive list of notes and bibliography, the author seems to zero in on the same examples/case studies throughout a section implying that these examples are the sole products of her research in that area. She is obviously a person on a mission (no harm in that) highlighting the effect that sugar growing had and continues to have, on disadvantaged workers/slaves. However, the last section covering 20th century sugar growing and use seems to have been rushed and not too deeply researched -- almost like she had had enough of the subject.

I also found her style a bit heavy going but maybe it was just too acedemic for my taste. All in all, a bit of a disappointment as sugar does represent a major health issue and has a very corrupt history which still isn't over.
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Popular Highlights

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&quote;
A fad in England and France was to serve up male and female sexual organs rendered in sugar. Even the church was not immune to this risqué humor, and until the English church outlawed the practice in 1263, Communion wafers were commonly baked in the shape of testicles.18 &quote;
Highlighted by 8 Kindle users
&quote;
In 1493, Portugal even sent two thousand Jewish children, aged two to ten, to work as sugar slaves. Their parents had recently fled to Portugal from Spain, where the Inquisition was forcing Jews to convert to Roman Catholicism. Only six hundred of these children survived their first year and, contrary to expectation, refused to Christianize. &quote;
Highlighted by 7 Kindle users
&quote;
“Growing sugar cane may have done more damage to wildlife than any other single crop on the planet,” the World Wildlife Fund reported in 2004.26 &quote;
Highlighted by 6 Kindle users

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