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Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom, and Science Hardcover – November 15, 2010
100 Young Adult Books to Read in a Lifetime
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From School Library Journal
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
More About the Author
I find history history endlessly fascinating. It is the detective story that yields us as the answer.
I try to write each book with the same care I would put into a novel, but with the same respect for truth as a judge in a court of law.
Top Customer Reviews
This book traces the history of the sugar cane from it's wild origins in New Guinea through it's spread through India and then the Muslim world. The Muslims were the first ones to create a sugar plantation, where vast stretches of land were all about one crop. However, although they are the architects of the system, the problems of labor and the need for lumber aren't solved until the Europeans take over dominance of the trade.
In the space of two centuries, sugar goes from being a luxury commodity that kings are willing to pay small ransoms for to a relatively common household item. In a story familiar to those who worry about the cost of strawberries shipped across the country versus those grown a few towns away, the authors note that it is now cheaper to buy sugar from overseas than it is to buy honey produced down the road. And it still is.
The engine that drove sugar production was slavery (later indentured servitude).Read more ›
The book opens with the personal stories of how the two authors became interested in this history and the project. But remember this book is for young people who likely know next to nothing about the topic, so the personal stories have no context and do not captivate as intended. The first chapter flies through some 19 centuries of history. Again, the intended audience has learned next to no history, so almost every sentence would need a footnote if not an entire unit of study. Much more focused, the second chapter is a detailed explanation of sugar production and plantation life. Not sure I needed to know quite so much about the production line to understand its brutality... The third chapter examines and re-examines the fight against slavery.Read more ›
It is mostly about how the enterprise of sugar (to the exclusion of other commodities) over the centuries caused enslavement and indentured servitude around the world, with all the brutality and oppression that accompanies these practices. Just as sugar is the historic excuse for these offensive practices, sugar is the excuse for writing a book that is really about how people have exploited people, and how the stirrings for abolition and freedom spread and grew over the centuries.
The authors have done an excellent job pulling together lots of interesting details from multiple sources to build this story of human abuse and forced migrations around the world. I even found their back notes interesting, and plan on tracking down some of the references they included. I like that they have provided backup websites for more information and for color versions of the b&w historic images.
Part I is about the discovery of "sweet cane" and how it spread around the old world, up to the time of Columbus. To me this was the most interesting part of the book. Our words for sugar and candy come from Sanskrit, reflecting how sugar spread to rest of the old world from India. I didn't know about the first university in Persia around 500AD, or the Champagne year-around trade fairs starting around 1150AD. It includes a bit of what is known about what meals consisted of then. I found this part very interesting and would like to read more along these lines, since this was only about 20 pages with large print and illustrations.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An excellent history that ties together the history of sweetness in numerous countries, cultures, and motivations of the worldwide expansion and development of the sugar industry. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Pete Saunders
We did a class project on this book and my students loved it. It also has a Google-Lit Trip to add to it. We contacted the author and he wrote us a nice email.Published 3 months ago by Rita Vannoy
This excellent book was as described. Arrived on time and well packed.Published 3 months ago by David Mills
This was an interesting book that goes through the history of sugar and the impact it has had on the world. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Peter Faden
I need this book for my daughter. She needs it for the school year. She said its boring but required. It arrived on time and it was in Excellent condition.Published 6 months ago by Danajanette
Chosen by my 12 year old for summer reading for school. Read in 2 days, couldn't put it down.Published 6 months ago by Wowwee
This book is mainly about the evils of slavery due to the growth of the sugar industry. I thought it would be more about the actual historical production of sugar from cane to... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Jboitx
My son needed a book for his World History book report. He loved it.Published 14 months ago by Caralee Lisonbee
I'd highly recommend this book to anyone who thinks the old slavery days were awesome. Clearly, it was not as good as many of us thought. Mr. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Kerry Kennedy