Bittersweet: The Story of Sugar [NOOK Book]

Overview

Forty years after first chewing on sugar cane in New Guinea, the home of sugar, the author underwent some complex dental work as a direct result of his sweet tooth. This led him to explore sugar cane's journey from New Guinea to Shakespeare's England. In the days before dentistry, people paid dearly for this sweet new food from exotic places. Queen Elizabeth I became so partial to hippocras, sugared almonds and pastilles that her teeth turned ...
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Bittersweet: The Story of Sugar

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Overview

Forty years after first chewing on sugar cane in New Guinea, the home of sugar, the author underwent some complex dental work as a direct result of his sweet tooth. This led him to explore sugar cane's journey from New Guinea to Shakespeare's England. In the days before dentistry, people paid dearly for this sweet new food from exotic places. Queen Elizabeth I became so partial to hippocras, sugared almonds and pastilles that her teeth turned completely black.

Bittersweet is full of ripping yarns and acts of bastardry. Through the ages, sugar has offered opportunities of tremendous riches to the unscrupulous few who grew and sold it. But in the days of manual processing, these fortunes were built on the backbreaking labour of slaves.

Bittersweet explores the effects that sugar has had on the world. A foodstuff we take for granted and indulge in more than we should has caused wars and geopolitical balances that have shaped the modern world and the power balances we see in the 21st century.

'The breadth of the connections Macinnis weaves through his tale continually surprises, all the more because the substance sugar is so deceptively simple that, before this book, we have taken it for granted. He has put his encyclopaedic knowledge to excellent use, placing science and technology naturally in a social context.' - Dr Peter Pockley, Australasian Correspondent for Nature.

'Few foods have had such an impact on human history as sugar, from its origins, its influence on the slave trade and its use as a medicine, a luxury, a comfort food and now a cheap filler in the modern processed food supply. Peter Macinnis has traced its path carefully, cleverly crafting the story of all its sweet and sour effects.' - Dr Rosemary Stanton, Nutritionist.
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Editorial Reviews

Choice
Covers a tremendous amount of information . . . a lighthearted but serious look.
Netsurfer Books
An engrossing tale.
Kirkus Reviews
From Australian science writer and broadcaster Macinnis, an informative and readable history of the simple substance that changed the world and often brought out the worst in people. Sugar cane, a member of the grass family, was first discovered in the New Guinea jungle some 9,000 years ago. The locals found that chewing and sucking it was pleasurable; eventually they learned to cultivate it. A widely grown crop in the ancient civilized world, sugar’s darker history began when the returning Crusaders brought it into Europe. There, it was a luxury item, being both capital- and labor-intensive, until the opening of the New World, particularly the Caribbean islands and Brazil, gave European colonizers the abundant land and suitable climate necessary for growing cane. Because a huge labor force was required to work the plantations, the author writes, "Sugar and slavery seemed to go hand in hand." Surveying the sweet stuff’s bitterest legacy, Macinnis unsparingly describes the appalling cruelty and dangerous working conditions inflicted on slaves and their not-much-better-off counterparts, indentured servants. He also writes of sugar’s influence on policy matters and history, such as Napoleon’s decision to hang onto France’s sugar-growing colonies and sell the others to the US in the Louisiana Purchase. Blessed with a fine sense of humor as well as a sense of history, the author leavens his otherwise dramatic tale with lighter moments and such oddities as a four-volume 18th-century treatise on sugar-making written in blank verse, from which he quotes. Only a hardhearted few could resist priceless gems like, "Of composts shall the Muse descend to sing, / Nor soil her heavenly plumes? The sacredMuse / Nought sordid deems, but what is base; nought fair / Unless true Virtue stamp it with her seal." Lively and entertaining: a splendid saga for the general reader. (6 maps)
From the Publisher
“Lively and entertaining: a splendid saga for the general reader.” —Kirkus Reviews
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781741766554
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin Pty., Limited
  • Publication date: 5/1/2003
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 216
  • Sales rank: 938,165
  • File size: 699 KB

Meet the Author

Peter Macinnis has been involved in bringing science to the general public for many years. Formerly a science teacher, he has written a number of school textbooks and science readers, and writes for a number of magazines for adults and children. He left teaching to work as a bureaucrat, first at Sydney's Powerhouse Museum and later at the Australian Museum, before returning to teaching once more, combined with part-time writing. Over the years, he has recorded many talks for radio programs developed by the ABC Science Unit. He is now a full-time writer for adults and children.
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Table of Contents

About the Author
Acknowledgments
Note on measurements and money
Preface
Introduction
1 The beginnings 1
2 The spread of sugar 13
3 Sugar in the New World 30
4 The English and the Sugar Business 43
5 Fighting over sugar 65
6 A science of sugar 85
7 Rum and politics 97
8 The end of slavery in the Americas 111
9 Emancipation's harvest 123
10 The rise of technology 137
11 Labour problems 147
12 Sugar in the twentieth century 162
Epilogue: The costs and benefits 173
Glossary 177
References 179
Index 186
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