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Sugar: A Bittersweet History Paperback – January 1, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 453 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Canada; First Edition Thus edition (2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143017136
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143017134
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,695,990 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

The book is incredibly well researched and we'll written.
John Bridenstine
I've been more than half-way through for a long time - but haven't ever gotten excited enough to finish the book.
Amazon Customer
Overall, I found Sugar to be very well written, well researched, and an enjoyable read.
woodenduckdecoys

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By woodenduckdecoys on April 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Elizabeth Abbot's book, Sugar, is an intimate work that details the history of sugar and how it became on of the most popular and widely used commodities in the world. Abbot shows the reader how sugar is an integral part of world history by beginning the book with a history of early sugar plantations in the Caribbean. From here, she continues by focusing on sugar's involvement with the slave trade, territorial struggles, and modern politics. Abbot is not shy about unpleasant details - in fact she relays many graphic stories from enslaved workers on Southern plantations about their treatment and their relationships with their masters, overseers, drivers, and others. This raw and unapologetic point of view is captivating and focuses on the harsh cruelty of enslaved women and the ruthless treatment that many sugar cane workers endured even after emancipation. Overall, I found Sugar to be very well written, well researched, and an enjoyable read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on July 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Sugar: A Bittersweet History tells the story of sugar in the world and explores how its cultivation created a new form of slavery, began the fast food industry, and has led to modern obesity dangers. From its roots in the 18th century when European businessmen turned the Caribbean islands into sugarcane farms to sugar's move from a luxury item to an everyday staple, and its influence on the concept of meals, this is a 'must' for any culinary collection.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Traven on October 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
Abbott clearly lays out the interwoven history of sugar, slavery, and global trade. An easy to read and enjoyable account of the many battles waged and the lives affected by our desire for sugar.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. dyrwal on July 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I picked up this book on recommendation of NPR's summer reading list, and boy!--what a great book. The history of sugar sounds interesting enough for perhaps a chapter or two, but with ELizabth Abbott skillfully crafting the narrative, a full 400 pages just fly by, reading at times like a novel! I, too, like other readers here, will never eat sugar again without remembering the painful, terrifying and bitter legacy that accompanies it to my taste buds!
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21 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Harvey C. Greisman on August 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Elizabeth Abbott's elegant and convincing prose, and her adroit presentation of detail make for an engaging, informative read. Only problem is, there's a long excursus on slavery which threatens to colonize the whole book. The chapters which deal with sugar itself constitute a valuable narrative that showcases impressive expository skills. But, oh, dear, someone got distracted. Or maybe that same someone was planning two books, and couldn't decide which one to finish. Or maybe the manuscript was delayed, and a publisher counseled the author to fill in the gaps with material that was somehow related.

What it comes down to is, the chapters on slavery, which make up a third of the book, give the reader a precise, accurate, and chilling account of the Peculiar Institution's history, chiefly in the Carribean. But there's so much overlap with other, magisterial histories of slavery and the transatlantic trade, that this lengthy account is nearly superfluous. And sugar itself fades from the horizon as the slavery discussion takes on a life of its own, complete with tragic human interest cameos which appear to derive in part from Victorian Octoroon literature.

The book on sugar was a tour-de-force. The other one, on the slave trade and slavery, I'd read before elsewhere. An editor might have reduced the slavery discussion to a few chapters, but I guess that wasn't on the agenda.

I'm looking forward to Ms. Abbott's next contribution, with the hope that it will not drift so far off topic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John Grohows on April 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book is a revealing and informative story about one of the most interesting members of the pantry. Although I will continue to saturate my coffee with its sweetness, I will never look at my sugar container in the same way. Everything from the Caribbean slavery accounts, to the modern analysis on sugar lobbyists is fascinating. Abbot's research in Haiti is inspiring. It is amazing what kind of information we are sheltered from by the massive industries that pump sugar into our diets, and I'm infinitely thankful for writers like Abbot who do the research and publish books as didactic as this.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Auntie Jane on August 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
this is one of the most insightful and best written books I have ever read. Abbott writes in a captivating voice and gives intelligent, well-researched and often times poignant information in a way that makes you think.
Fabulous!
Those who love non-fiction will be instantly in love, and those who are not usually fans will be won over.
A MUST-READ!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Brian Maitland on August 22, 2012
Format: Paperback
Having read similar books where the focus is on the history of one food commodity (True History Of Chocolate by the Coes, Banana by Dan Koeppel, Salt by Mark Kurlansky, etc.) is something I can get into in a big way. Sadly, this book on Sugar lost me when chapter after chapter went on and on about slavery. Yes, slavery played a huge role in sugar's history but the author seemed to lose her way by spending such a large chunk of the book on that. It became more a book explaining and discussing slavery and not understanding that readers get it so would she mind getting back to the focus on sugar.

It's very well researched but was in desperate need of an editor to reign her in. She lost focus for the majority of this book when it became a treatise on slavery rather than on sugar itself.
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