Lime Review - Books & Spoken Word
The Sugar Barons by Matthew Parker
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The Sugar Barons is the history of the men who made untold wealth in the West Indies in the 200 years from 1650 onwards.
It’s the story of trade through one source - sugar. This enabled wealth the equivalent of today’s oil barons. The other key strand of this well told story is the brutality of slavery.
It is not possible to explain the rise and fall of the British Empire; how tea was made more palatable; how the prosperity of the cities of the west facing ports such as Bristol, Liverpool and Glasgow was accrued, without including the gross inhumanity of slavery that made it all work.
The focus is on the English owned islands, first Barbados, the greatest money making jewel, Jamaica, the strategically important naval position of St Kitts, and ending with Antigua, but the islands run by the other Europeans are also mentioned throughout the narrative.
This is a thoroughly researched book, and you will get a sense of why Britain and France opted for their money making Caribbean islands, rather than the less financially valuable US or Canada. Be warned though, you will need be strong to cope with wilfully cruel treatment of the West African slaves.
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