Thursday, April 01, 2010

Elizabeth Abbott's SUGAR: A BITTERSWEET HISTORY in The Wall Street Journal

"Fascinating... epic in ambition... there is much to savor in Sugar. . .generally excellent," says Fergus Bordewich in The Wall Street Journal review of Elizabeth Abbott's Sugar: A Bittersweet History.

Already an international success and one of only three books shortlisted for the Charles Taylor Prize for literary non-fiction, Elizabeth Abbott’s Sugar: A Bittersweet History tells the extraordinary story of sugar from its very origins to the present day. Exhaustive research took Abbott across the globe, retracing the route of slaves across three continents. She illuminates how the cultivation of sugar put a series of events into effect that created a new form of slavery, fueled the Industrial Revolution, kick-started the fast food industry and the current obesity crisis.

Library Journal also weighs in on Sugar: "In this study, Abbott reveals the sordid past of a seemingly innocuous kitchen staple. Because she is a descendant of Antiguan sugar farmers and a former resident of Haiti, Abbott's sugar obsession runs deep and, not surprisingly, focuses primarily on the Caribbean. She recounts the origins and development of the sugar industry as a history of the people who suffered for its profitability. Paying considerable attention to the eradication of indigenous peoples and the inhuman treatment of African and Creole slaves, she is seemingly intent on exposing the immorality of sugar by pairing descriptions of its enslaved and indentured harvesters with startling vignettes of excess sugar consumption in Europe and the carefree lives of largely absent plantation owners. Although Sugar lingers a bit too long on the dark side of sugar production and can at times feel more like a tome on Caribbean slavery, Abbott has still produced a scholarly yet quite readable work. Her closing chapters on "sugar diasporas" and the modern sugar industry ultimately succeed in drawing readers back out of the cruel intricacies of sugar plantation slavery."

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