The Sugar Barons: Family, Corruption, Empire, and War in the West Indies

The Sugar Barons Family Corruption Empire and War in the West Indies To those who travel there today the West Indies are unspoiled paradise islands Yet that image conceals a turbulent and shocking history For some years after the West Indies were the strateg

  • Title: The Sugar Barons: Family, Corruption, Empire, and War in the West Indies
  • Author: Matthew Parker
  • ISBN: 9780802717443
  • Page: 191
  • Format: Hardcover
  • To those who travel there today, the West Indies are unspoiled paradise islands Yet that image conceals a turbulent and shocking history For some 200 years after 1650, the West Indies were the strategic center of the western world, witnessing one of the greatest power struggles of the age as Europeans made and lost immense fortunes growing and trading in sugar a commoditTo those who travel there today, the West Indies are unspoiled paradise islands Yet that image conceals a turbulent and shocking history For some 200 years after 1650, the West Indies were the strategic center of the western world, witnessing 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 it became known as white gold As Matthew Parker vividly chronicles in his sweeping history, the sugar revolution made the English, in particular, a nation of voracious consumers so much so that the wealth of her island colonies became the foundation and focus of England s commercial and imperial greatness, underpinning the British economy and ultimately fueling the Industrial Revolution Yet with the incredible wealth came untold misery the horror endured by slaves, on whose backs the sugar empire was brutally built the rampant disease that claimed the lives of one third of all whites within three years of arrival in the Caribbean the cruelty, corruption, and decadence of the plantation culture.While sugar came to dictate imperial policy, for those on the ground the British West Indian empire presented a disturbing moral universe Parker brilliantly interweaves the human stories of those since lost to history whose fortunes and fame rose and fell with sugar Their industry drove the development of the North American mainland states, and with it a slave culture, as the plantation model was exported to the warm, southern states Broad in scope, rich in detail, The Sugar Barons freshly links the histories of Europe, the West Indies, and North America and reveals the full impact of the sugar revolution, the resonance of which is still felt today.

    One thought on “The Sugar Barons: Family, Corruption, Empire, and War in the West Indies”

    1. I am not pleased to think that in the House of Lords, sitting make laws that affect the British people are the descendants of these sugar barons, slavers all. They made their money through the exploitation and total control over the lives and deaths of others. They purchased estates in Britain and fancy clothes and with their money married well. Some were rewarded by being elevated into the aristocracy, others bought their peerages by laying out funds to those who could propose them. And now, th [...]

    2. Every wound the human race has inflicted upon itself: colonialism, slavery, rape, murder, torture, venereal disease, theft, war, sedition, genocide, binge drinking, binge eating, exorbitant wealth, violent poverty, forced self-cannibalism, piracy, sloth, deception, treason, and abuse of every conceivable color are found with suffocating thickness throughout the history of the West Indies. After reading Parker's account, it's hard to believe that there was any place on earth worse than the Caribb [...]

    3. I could never have thought I would find myself so engrossed in a history of sugar production in the British West Indies, ie. Jamaica, Barbados, Antigua etc. I could hardly put this book down. In the wrong hands this could have been an immensely dull and dry scholarly work, but Parker writes with real flair, populating his narrative with colourful figures, both sympathetic and abhorrent. Pirates, slaves, merchants, traders, plantation owners, politicians, rebels, soldiers and sailors, they're all [...]

    4. Matthew Parker’s The Sugar Barons: Family, Corruption, Empire, and War in the West Indies is a fine narrative on the nature of British imperialism in the Caribbean and North America. This historical epoch, despite our mythology, had much less to do with religious tolerance and political liberty than it did with greed and exploitation. Some things never change.

    5. This is a great book that I would recommend to any fan of history. Parker like all great history writers is able to basically tell a story along with providing the hard facts and dates. I was really amazed to see how involved Boston MA and Newport RI were in the slave trade at the time, slave money practically built Newport it seems! It was also interesting to see the role that sugar played in the American Revolution. Basically ultra rich planters from the Indies started sending all their men to [...]

    6. In relation to the book, Sugar Barons, you can find an excellent synopsis at this link, which is a video of a presentation the author made at a literary festival - Write Idea - in 2011 : youtube/watch?v=gCasMThe book Sugar Barons by Matthew Parker deals with the rise and fall of the pioneers of the British colonial slave plantation system which sought to capitalize on the home country's appetite for refined sugar, used in the 17th and 18th centuries to sweeten teas and the culinary delights whic [...]

    7. Bridget Brereton Deputy Principal of the University of the West Indies, in a review of this book writes"the book belongs to an older tradition of writing West Indian histories, the tradition that was dominant up to the 1950s, before the “decolonisation” of Caribbean historiography. This older school had no doubt that the creators of Caribbean history were Europeans. These were the men (hardly ever women) who “founded her [England’s] colonies, fought her battles, covered the ocean with co [...]

    8. In south dorset past stonehenge i have often driven past a landed estate with a wall which seems to go on four miles and miles and the estate seems to belong to the Drax family . It has a suitable iron gate with lions or some such animal perched on the pillars . in Oxford there is a library set up by the will of Christopher Codrington at All Soul's College which contains a collection only secondary to the Bodleian . Fonthill Abbey was built by William Beckford in the 18th century after his fathe [...]

    9. From the moment I saw this on the shelf at the bookstore I knew it would present a fantastic read. I wasn't disappointed. It serves to confirm what I have believed for some time - that the British Empire was built on greed, self-aggrandisement and the abuse, misery and suffering of others.A fascinating history which I lent to a friend who promptly read within the week. Unputdownable.

    10. I am writing this only halfway through reading all the pages.I am appalled at the level of ultra-violence employed as a "lifestyle norm". The people featured are the builders of empire in North America. This West Indies culture transplanted itself in South Carolina to reinvigorate the profit-by-brutality business. Jumping ahead on the political timeline, South Carolina can't escape it's past of empowering its history to positions of power.My rant. The end.

    11. S0 much of American, British, and World History, for that matter, hinges upon what occurred in the West Indies during these years but for myself this history has always been told in more of a sideshow way to the subject matter I was looking at. It was very enlightening to focus in on the story in the Caribbean itself and see how the events there helped shape and were determined by events elsewhere.

    12. There's plenty of good information in this work, but as a narrative, it wanders and circles around itself on occasion. It does so because it lacks a clear thesis that would've provided a solid roadmap for narration and analysis. The latter is weak and frequently simplistic. Parker chose to the follow the most interesting characters (highly piratical in attitude, behavior, and brutality) in the colonization of the British Caribbean--the Draxes, the Beckfords, the Codringtons--to show how the fabu [...]

    13. An adequate history of the West Indies’ sugar plantations, their rise and fall, and their importance in gaining wealth for the overall British Empire as the central focus of the rum-sugar-slave trade. My only real problem with the book was that it was a very well-researched but strictly factual transmission of information. I do appreciate a historian’s voice occasionally making a wry interpretation. (We’re so spoiled with the plethora of great historians at the moment – it’s no longer [...]

    14. The topic of the book is a fascinating one, but it was told in a piecemeal, fragmented fashion. It could have been a fascinating narrative, instead it simply presented facts, one after the other. I ultimately gave up, which was disappointing because I really wanted to like this book.

    15. I found it interesting but a hard read. Too much detail in my view but nonetheless the way it showed you the start and in many ways the end of the Sugar Barons was worth reading. However the details on the various wars could have been less in my view.

    16. I've got so much to read lately that I'm usually happy to finish a book. This one I wanted more of. Fascinating topic and very well written. - Lynn M

    17. Good book, I learned a lot. While it obviously focused mostly on the West Indies, it did a good job of integrating that history into a global context by showing how the New England colonies and England interacting with them. This history is really another example of how there probably wouldnt be a United States if it wasnt for slavery since New England was heavily reliant on the West Indies trade and slave trade. The US would certainly not have had any sort of urban society or cities by the 1770 [...]

    18. I am glad that I listened to this on CD because I doubt I would have waded through it in print. The book covers the development of the sugar industry and the institutionalization of slavery in several Caribbean Islands from 1650 to 1834 (when slavery was outlawed in Britain and its colonies). The point of view is British, and I found particularly interesting – I am not sure I have ever read a book about slavery in the western world from the British perspective. My knowledge of the history of t [...]

    19. Amazing book. It tells the story of the British in the West Indies. It focuses on three families - the ‘Sugar Baron’s. A big part of that story is the Slave Trade. And it’s horrific and brutal. And colonisalism and War. It is also a tale of British History and how parliamentary battles in London played out in the West Indies.This book starts before the slave trade. With mass emigration from England around the time of the civil war. And life for people at that time was pretty grim, one thir [...]

    20. This is a great history of the frankly bloody and awful history of sugar production in the West Indies. It does focus mainly on the planters themselves and their politics and society. The slaves and the poor whites are frequently brought into the discussion and their suffering is described but this is not a detailed study of their situation. Parker focuses more on the political forces that drove the system and especially the way relations among Spain, France, Great Britain and the Netherlands af [...]

    21. This book is shocking. It's the history of the sugar industry in the West Indies, largely in Barbados. And as such is about the history of slavery. It details how what began as effectively enslavement of Irish indentured servants set up a culture where people became inured to cruelty and set the stage for the enslavement of people "imported" from Africa. It's very startling and ugly, but the roots of the world of today are here easily recognized. The number of workers needed to produce sugar mea [...]

    22. The Sugar Barons is a fascinating account of "white gold" in the Caribbean. Living here in Trinidad and Tobago, a backwater and late-comer to the British Empire, I was inspired to read this account of life in Barbados, Jamaica and Antigua after a recent trip to Barbados. The history of this island, of the entire region actually, is appalling. The riches earned by the "Sugar Barons" was based on slave labor and its horrifying practice. This book is not for everyone, but I needed to read it to und [...]

    23. The Sugar Barons is a detailed history of the British West Indies (Caribbean) and how the islands developed (or lack thereof) under the sugar industry. Following the great Caribbean families like the Draxes who started a veritable industrial revolution that made sugar plantations viable and achieve a splendor of the great English manors while riding the backs of slaves from Africa . Parker does a great job of presenting in a clear and well thought out manner the effects of slavery on the islands [...]

    24. "The Sugar Barons" is a detailed history of the islands of the Caribbean, focusing on the main British sugar plantation islands of Jamaica and Barbados. Unfortunately, I found myself spacing out, losing focus as well as interest for much of the time. The long personal descriptions of 17th century planters, their families, their homes, etc. just wasn't of much interest to me. I thought I might become more interested in the last 10% of the book, during the late 1700's as the United States began th [...]

    25. Matthew Parker traces the establishment of the British colonies of Jamaica and Barbados in the 17th century through a handful of families--Drax, Codrington, Lascelles, along with their Jacobean mansions unsuited to the climate, their deaths from malaria and yellow fever, their slaves and mixed-race children, indentured servants and maroons, the rotten boroughs they bought back in England, their schemes to marry into the landed gentry with big cash dowries, their ruthless suppression of slave rev [...]

    26. Review carried forward from "I'm Reading"This book is a very readable history of the British West Indies, and the rise and decline of the sugar empires, built by dynamic men in the face of war, disease, and weather - but built on the human tragedy of industrial-scale and brutal slavery. I knew obliquely of the predominance of sugar during England's colonial/mercantilist era (not least because of the contribution of the Sugar Act to the turning of the North American colonies against England), and [...]

    27. This history of the West Indies is quite good, and my only issue with it is the length - it feels a little weird saying a 464 page book is too short, but here we are. Parker covers from the initial settlements down to about the fourth generation of decedents, which is where things start really falling apart (don't feel bad for them, they all had a ton of slaves). I guess this makes sense as a stopping point, both because the West Indies' time as an important player on the world stage is coming t [...]

    28. The Sugar Barons is a fascinating, pleasantly and well written, rich in documents and facts, teeming with peopole’s stories book - and since history is made by people, this aspect of the book is remarkably interesting and valuable. The author's passion for the subject is palpable and therefore is transmitted to the reader.It has been a splendid chance for me to get to know more about the “other” British colonies: I’m a passionate reader about Asian colonies and was never really caught ab [...]

    29. on the backs of the enslaved the world benefited from the cultivation of sugar. from the 1500's europe tried to lasso the west indies archipelago for it's strategic location and harbors and beauty, in the quest to find a climate to grow first tobacco, then cotton and then what ultimately worked SUGAR. parker's book focuses on the british empire there in all it's decadence and greed with emphasis on barbados and jamaica. he portrays several families who monopolized the trade for profit only. but [...]

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