The contemporary image of the West Indies as paradise islands conceals a turbulent, dramatic and shocking history.
For 200 years after 1650, the West Indies witnessed one of the greatest power struggles of the age, as Europeans made and lost immense fortunes growing and trading in sugar - a commodity so lucrative that it was known as white gold.
This compelling book tells how the islands became by far most valuable and important colonies in the British Empire. How Barbados, scene of the sugar revolution that made the English a nation of voracious consumers, was transformed from a backward outpost into England's richest colony, powered by the human misery of tens of thousands of enslaved Africans. How this model of coercion and exploitation was exported around the region, producing huge wealth for a few, but creating a society poisoned by war, disease, cruelty and corruption. How Jamaican opulence reached its zenith, and its subsequent calamitous decline; and the growing revulsion against slavery that led to emancipation.
At the heart of The Sugar Barons are the human stories of the families whose fortunes rose and fell with those of the West Indian empire: the family of James Drax, the first sugar baron, who introduced sugar cultivation to Barbados, as well as extensive slavery; the Codringtons, the most powerful family in the Leeward Islands, who struggled to fashion a workable society in the Caribbean but in the end succumbed to corruption and decadence; and the Beckfords, Jamaica's leading planters, who amassed the greatest sugar fortune of all, only to see it frittered away through the most extraordinary profligacy.
The Sugar Barons reveals how the importance of the West Indies made a crucial contribution to the loss of the North American colonies, and explores the impact of the empire on Britain, where it still constitutes perhaps the darkest episode in our history.
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"Very impressive - a meticulously researched piece of work, and so engagingly written. It taught me so much that I didn't know about British Caribbean history. What a story!"--Andrea Levy, author of Small Island and The Long Song
"Gripping ... a compendium of greed, horrible ingenuity and wickedness, but also a fascinating and thoughtful social history"--William Dalrymple, author of White Mughals
"Matthew Parker's admirable and frequently gripping book ... charts the Caribbean islands' profound effect on both British and wider European and African history ... he has the most extraordiary material at his disposal"--Andrew Holgate, The Sunday Times
"In The Sugar Barons, Parker provides a glittery history of the British impresarios, heiresses and remittance men involved in Caribbean slavery... racy, well-researched history... The Sugar Barons provides eloquent testimony to the mercantile greed of a few and manifest misery endured by millions in the pursuit of sweetness"--Ian Thomson, Guardian
"Fabulously researched, the diary entries, letters and papers reveal a staggering level of corruption and cruelty. But despite the soap opera potential of the truly scandalous tales, Parker refuses to sweeten his matter-of-fact prose style for the casual page-burner. Instead he construct, piece by piece, what amounts to a compelling prosecution of the slavery and Imperial greed that left a shocking legacy in the region"-- Wanderlust
"Compelling, wonderful ... The Sugar Barons is an exemplary book; history as it should be written."--Andrea Stuart, Independent
"Able and well-researched... As Matthew Parker's engaging book demonstrates, by 1750 the sugar trade, like gas and oil today, had infiltrated so many aspects of national life that it has become a power in the land in its own right. Politicians courted it and men died in its service. It had become a national necessity."-- Literary Review
Power, money and corruption in the British Empire: the English families for whom the sugar trade brought wealth beyond their wildest dreams
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Book Description Hutchinson, 2011. Hardcover. Book Condition: Good. Dust Jacket Condition: Includes dust jacket. The dust jacket is a little tatty and torn. Ex Library Book with usual stamps and stickers. Good condition is defined as: a copy that has been read but remains in clean condition. All of the pages are intact and the cover is intact and the spine may show signs of wear. The book may have minor markings which are not specifically mentioned. Most items will be dispatched the same or the next working day. Bookseller Inventory # mon0006621746
Book Description Hutchinson Radius. Book Condition: Good. Ex-library, so some stamps and wear, but in good overall condition. Bookseller Inventory # Z1-M-014-01414
Book Description Hutchinson Radius, 2011. Book Condition: Good. First. N/A. Ships from the UK. Former Library book. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Bookseller Inventory # GRP57256379
Book Description Hutchinson Radius, London, 2011. Hardcover. Book Condition: Very Good. Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good. Bookseller Inventory # 007910