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Buy for $24.95
In this eye-opening study, Sidney W. Mintz shows how Europeans and Americans transformed sugar from a rare foreign luxury to a commonplace necessity of modern life and how it changed the history of capitalism and industry. He discusses the production and consumption of sugar and reveals how closely interwoven sugar's origins are as a "slave" crop grown in Europe's tropical colonies, with its use first as an extravagant luxury for the aristocracy, then as a staple of the diet of the new industrial proletariat. Finally, he considers how sugar has altered work patterns, eating habits, and our diet in modern times.
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Dated but still worthwhile
The subject is of enormous interest, and while I am glad I listened to the book for the information it contains, it seems dated and less than satisfying. I started reading books on history in the 1960s and have been struck in recent years by how most books written before about 2000 have become dated even if that doesn't mean they are no longer worth reading. Knowledge and understanding have grown so much in the last two decades that books often need a serious update, and this one is a good example.
The story of sugar since 1985 could well provide material for another book. Recent books such as those by Gary Taubes and Robert Lustig have put sugar in a new perspective. If you've read these, Sweetness and Power is an interesting and useful complement, but even as historic-anthropological analysis, it seems incomplete. For instance, there is not very much on labor relations and what sugar production meant for laborers as production evolved in the course of time.
4 people found this helpful
Should be required reading/listening
This was history, self-help, economics, a diet guide, a critique of capitalism, an examination of our relationships to time, a survey of globalization....this should be read as widely as the Bible