Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Spice, Magic, Slavery, Freedom, and Science

Sugar Changed the World Marina Budhos Marc Aronson

When the award-winning husband-and-wife team of Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos discovered that they each had sugar in their family history, they were inspired to trace the globe-spanning story of the sweet substance and to seek out the voices of those who led bitter sugar lives.

The trail ran like a bright band from religious ceremonies in India to Europe’s Middle Ages, then on to Columbus, who brought the first cane cuttings to the Americas. Sugar was the substance that drove the bloody slave trade and caused the loss of countless lives but it also planted the seeds of revolution that led to freedom in the American colonies, Haiti, and France. With songs, oral histories, maps, and over 80 archival illustrations, here is the story of how one product allows us to see the grand currents of world history in new ways. Time line, source notes, bibliography, index.

Book Reviews for Sugar Changed the World

“Sugar did indeed change the world. It is such an important, necessary, and controversial part of our contemporary lives that we take it for granted. But in this extremely valuable book, Marc and Marina give us an extraordinary gift – a long, historical, look at the development of sugar and the monumental changes it brought to the globe. The writing is fluid and engaging; the stories of enslavement, brutality, freedom and self-determination are fascinating. Younger audiences will be encouraged to view history and culture as adventure. Those of us a bit older, in all parts of the world, will find that our past and our destinies are much more closely intertwined. This is a marvelous accomplishment.”
-Dr. Franklin Odo, Former Dir. of the Smithsonian Institution Asian Pacific American Program
“That a single food — sucrose, or sugar — could have played so great a part in such important changes in world history makes for a nearly incredible story. But the authors of this book make it believable and immediate. They provide a touching element to sugar’s story by bringing their own life stories into convincing alignment with their global account. This is good writing that will make good reading — for young, and even for old– readers”
-Sidney W. Mintz, author of Sweetness and Power: The The Place of Sugar in Modern History and Three Ancient Colonies: Caribbean Themes and Variations
“This book, at once serious and engaging, traces the complex history of sugar over vast expanses of time and space, exploring ways in which this one commodity influenced the formation of empires, the enslavement and migrations of peoples, the development of ideas about liberty, and so much more.”
-Deborah Warner, a Curator in the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.