Donna's Reviews > Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom, and Science

Sugar Changed the World by Marc Aronson
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Jan 31, 11

bookshelves: nonfiction, social-issues, history, teen
Read from January 11 to 25, 2011

I was expecting a micro-history of sugar when I first began reading, which isn't exactly what I got. The title is accurate when it says "sugar changed the world;" how sugar changed the world is the subject of the book. Aronson and Budhos recount in the introduction how their ancestral connections to sugar (Aronson' has a connection to the European beet sugar industry, and Budhos' great-grandparents made a living on a sugar plantation in Guyana) spurred them to research and write the book.

The bulk of the book is divided into four parts. The first part does a nice job of describing how sugar spread through Asia and then Europe. Part two describes the hell of living and working on a sugar plantation. There are many excellent illustrations and photographs in this section that provide a portrait of plantation life, as well as a few maps that show the flow of slaves from Africa to the New World.

Part three describes how people (including slaves in the Caribbean, Colonists in New England, and citizens in England and France) began to fight for freedom. This section was a little confusing to me at times. For instance, when it jumped from discussing a rebellion in Saint Domingue (now Haiti) to the English invasion of Jamaica I was a bit lost at first. In part four, the authors return to their family connections and how change came to the sugar industry (and the world) through social reform and scientific discoveries like the development of beet sugar.
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