In 1942, the U.S. Sugar Corporation was indicted for enslaving the black American cane-cutters working their Florida plantations. In what PW judged a ``graphic'' and ``forceful'' presentation, New Yorker writer Wilkinson reveals that the growers, protected by the sugar lobby, sugar import quotas and government foreign workers' programs, still treat 10,000 West Indian, mainly Jamaican, cutters like slaves. (Nov.)
Wilkinson's earlier books, Midnights ( LJ 7/82), a memoir about local police on Cape Cod, and Moonshine ( LJ 8/85), a look at stills in North Carolina, have established him as a sensitive observer of out-of-the-way places and experiences. Here, he turns to Florida's vast but largely unknown sugar cane industry and the rural communities--Clewiston, Belle Glade, Pahokee, Moore Haven--where the cane is grown and harvested. Central to the story is the brutish life of the men, mostly Jamaicans or other West Indians, who work the fields. Poor and uneducated, they are exploited, says Wilkinson, by the U.S. Sugar Corporation and other large companies; as recently as 1942 charges of peonage were brought against U.S. Sugar. For serious social science collections and most Florida libraries.-- Kenneth F. Kister, Poynter Inst. for Media Studies, St. Petersburg, Fla.