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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book well worth reading
This is a great book. There are so many things in here to make you stop and think, not always comfortably. For example, Andrea is fortunate to have such an interesting and researchable family history to recount. And yet how can you say that it is good fortune to have a family history emeshed in slavery, traceable in part only because of efficient records of slave...
Published on 13 Jun 2012 by Amazon Customer

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3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Excellent reading material for everyone newly arrived in Barbados. Thoroughly humbling. Well researched, blending specific family history with national and international events.
Published 9 months ago by Amazon Customer


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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book well worth reading, 13 Jun 2012
This review is from: Sugar in the Blood: A Family's Story of Slavery and Empire (Hardcover)
This is a great book. There are so many things in here to make you stop and think, not always comfortably. For example, Andrea is fortunate to have such an interesting and researchable family history to recount. And yet how can you say that it is good fortune to have a family history emeshed in slavery, traceable in part only because of efficient records of slave ownership? But there are also things in this book that make you want to just keep turning the page in the unfolding family drama down the generations. Although that can also be uncomfortable. You almost want the first Ashby's to survive and flourish against the odds in their new world. Or at least I did, aware that this is the start of the author's known family tree. And yet how can anyone say that they wanted these pioneer families to flourish, when it was only possible thanks to slavery?

A combination of detailled research and an eloquent retelling of some dreadful stories and realities bring another time and place vividly to life. However the fact that the story is also very personal adds a moving and unusual dimension, as Andrea reflects on her ancestors and their differing lives in an open and honest way. I kept being drawn back to these people, caring about their fate. Black, white and clearly all shades in between. Flawed and heroic, sometimes both. But all of them Andrea's flesh and blood, who have lived the consequences of slavery and empire and still do to this day.

In her preface Andrea talks beautifully about her debt of honour to all her ancestors, telling their story and bringing them to life. In the introduction she talks of how angry and upset she felt at finding an ancestor in a register of slaves, but also about how he can now be honoured. Andrea has done her family proud. She may consider that she had a debt to pay, if so it is certainly one that she has repaid handsomely with this book. And the rest of us are very lucky that such a gifted writer has chosen to share her story with us.

K. J. Talbot
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, Frank and Thought Provoking, 13 Jun 2013
Sugar in the Blood is a detailed and enlightening West Indian sugar plantation history describing the experiences of AS's ancestors, who were from both slave and planter backgrounds.

Her writing is tremendous; her vocabulary, social and political insights fizz with anger and revulsion as she explicitly describes slavery's exploitations and degradations in its many forms. Some may consider the repeated illustrations excessive: the 17th and 18th centuries were infamously renowned for the appalling conditions suffered generally and particularly in the steel smelting foundries and mills during the Industrial Revolution, where the feelings of entrapment and monotony were profound. Yet the reader is privileged to be invited to share the unimaginable struggles and heartbreaks of those in her family tree - from the tiny beginnings to the book's conclusion c.2012 - and to attempt a comprehension of her forbears' suffering, then to finally to rejoice in the achievements of her father, recognised with a knighthood for his services to medicine in the Caribbean and wider Commonwealth.

Perhaps I rather hoped to discover whether along the way AS had been able to reconcile the two conflicting sides of the `white gold' coin, comprising the sufferings on one side of the family with the economic and social advantages gained therefrom, which ultimately propelled her parents and grandparents to obvious success. Even by the end of the book, it's none too clear whether she came to terms with the findings of her deep research into her ancestors. She gets close to it in the last two penultimate paragraphs of the epilogue - seemingly as wistful of her childhood as they are moving - and which will strike a chord with anyone who, from their middle-years, reflects upon an upbringing and a childhood home that has had such a significant impact as it did upon her.

It's a powerful book, frankly written and thought provoking. It's a history of the island of Barbados; an indictment of the institution of slavery which once pervaded the island; and the story of a family caught in that terrible storm. All these have had a fine chronicler; in Andrea Stuart, it's difficult to imagine anyone who could do it better. (4/13)
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5.0 out of 5 stars This book is beautifully written and very solidly researched, 29 Aug 2014
By 
Dr. Philip Woods (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This book is beautifully written and very solidly researched. Andrea Stuart manages the long history very well by concentrating on the lives of two of her ancestors, one at the precarious beginning of Barbados' settlement in the late 1630s and the other at the height of the plantocracy's fortunes in the late eighteenth and into the nineteenth century when abolitionism, slave revolt and eventually emancipation rocked the island. The great strength of the book is Stuart's willingness to go beyond the historical sources and make sensible but imaginative descriptions of how contemporaries felt about the situations they were in. The range of issues raised is impressive and generally the treatment is balanced. As the book reaches its later stages, Stuart's anger at the impact of the cruelty of the slave system, the racism and the legacy of colour hierarchy and 'slave mentality' comes through. Sugar is seen as an intensely damaging crop- a damage which is still present in different forms today.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Picked up as a holiday read, but has changed my whole perspective - not for the faint-hearted, 8 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Sugar in the Blood: A Family's Story of Slavery and Empire (Hardcover)
A superb personal story of Barbados ... on slavery, sugar and broader issues of the insidious effects of globalisation and the latent prejudices that still taint western society

This was literally a rushed purchase, just before heading for a snatched winter break in Barbados - I wanted something that would provide an insight into the islands history.

Wow !! Little anticipated, but much appreciated, I feel genuinely moved by the experience of this great book.

As a middle-aged white Caucasian, with roots in the English countryside, as far back as we have traced, Andreas writing challenged some of my deep-seated imagery of the New World, how it developed and how many of the institutions, great buildings, estates and wealthy families of the UK can be traced back to their connections with this awful industry. The book resonates through the centuries and lays at our feet the challenges today of global companies [ think: factories in Bangladesh] and our own attitudes to the contribution of non-whites to the growth of our society.

But it is also a good read, if sometimes a little laboured at the beginning, but as a non-bookish person I felt compelled to stick with it. Andreas use of the richness of English language is delightful - so best to read on a kindle, so you can look up those uncommon words

Sugar in the Blood is a work of great insight, intelligence and feeling. Andreas family story is fascinating and has threads across into the USA and back to the Old Country. Her observations of the pervasive effects of one of the world's first global industries, are brought alive with a connectedness that comes from literally having 'skin in the game'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A window into Barbados past, 28 Oct 2013
By 
CTA (Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sugar in the Blood: A Family's Story of Slavery and Empire (Hardcover)
Being a twelfth generation Barbadian like Andrea Stuart, who went to primary school with a member of the Ashby family in the 1950s, I found this book absolutely compelling. The first record that I have been able to locate shows that my ancestor was the owner of a plantation in St. George in 1659, which suggests that he arrived in Barbados shortly after Andrea's ancestor George Ashby. In his will he is described as a gentleman and its wording suggests that he was a royalist, so it seems likely that he was a man of some substance who sought refuge in Barbados during the English Civil War. I know exactly where the land is that he farmed, where his windmill stood and how many slaves his heirs inherited; however, I have never been able to visualize the world in which he lived. Andrea Stuart has done a great job of drawing on various sources to bring the Barbados of that era alive for all of us.
I must confess that I became a bit worried about the accuracy of her portrayal when she described the harvesting of sugar cane, making reference to the burning of the fields and the use of machetes. This has never been the practice in Barbados as there are no snakes or scorpions and a medieval-looking instrument called a cane-bill was used to cut cane manually, but later on I realized that she actually grew up in Jamaica, which explains this small mistake.
I should add that the book is very well written. Although the author has cited her sources in an annex, the text is not cluttered with footnotes like an academic treatise. I read a lot of history for pleasure, but on some occasions it becomes a task. I will definitely be buying her biography of that most famous of Caribbean women, Josephine.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent., 16 April 2014
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I ordered this among other books on the Caribbean after discovering an ancestor's involvement in Jamaican sugar plantations. This is a very well written, moving and brave book. Well worth the time.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 25 Jan 2014
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Excellent reading material for everyone newly arrived in Barbados. Thoroughly humbling. Well researched, blending specific family history with national and international events.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book, 18 Jan 2014
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This tale of Andrea Stuart's ancestors is riveting, intelligent and well-written. Best book I have read in a long time, apart of course from her biography of Josephine de Beauharnais. What an interesting writer.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fast turn-on pages, but supported by serius reserches, 3 Jan 2014
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Through the sotory of a slave, a piece of history of menkind. Nice story, good writing, rigorous storical bases, I definitly suggest reading
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5.0 out of 5 stars a robust researched and lively historic piece, 31 Dec 2013
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Much of the early writers of the traces of slave trading have as yet to bring such clarity to the real experience of the planter bosses and their lifestyle and difficulties although they too suffered ,but not in any way did they experience the brutality and hardships they brought to humanity in order to build their Empires
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Sugar in the Blood: A Family's Story of Slavery and Empire
Sugar in the Blood: A Family's Story of Slavery and Empire by Andrea Stuart (Hardcover - 7 Jun 2012)
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