Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sugar Changed the World by Aronson and Budhos

Sugar Changed the World.  A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom and Science by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos

Singing....Sugar, Sugar, Honey, Honey, you are my candy and you got me wanting you.  Who doesn't love sugar?  Sugar Cane changed the world.  Before Sugar can we had Honey as a sweetener and it was hard and dangerous to find.  Sugar changed the way the world's food tasted, drove the Atlantic slave trade and it created a need for sweetness that lasts until this day. 

Sugar Cane can be traced to the island of New Guinea to about 8000 B.C.  It then made its way, through cultural diffusion, to Asia, where it is found years later, by Alexander the Great (I knew there was a reason I loved him) in modern day Pakistan.  Sugar Cane then spread throughout the Mediterranean Muslim world ending The Age of Honey.

Sugar Plantations dominated The Americas after Columbus and for the plantations to be successful they needed labor, lots of "FREE" labor.  Brazil became the center of the sugar market and where the majority of African slaves were imported until 1888.  Sugar, known as White Gold was a killer and those slaves forced to work the plantations toiled from morning till night and died young.  96% of slaves were brought from Africa to work in South America and the Caribbean to work on Sugar Plantations not tobacco or cotton plantations as originally thought.

This book is so valuable to me as a history teacher.  I am currently reading Roots by Alex Haley and War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy and this book, Sugar Changed the World, connected to both of these books.  That is because sugar was the major force in the market at the time these literary tomes intersect.  An absolutely powerful, informative and usable book in the classroom or for anyone who wants to learn about the World's important history and how it affect us today.   Sugar Changed the World has excellent pictures, maps, songs and resources to help teachers and readers make connections. 

I have never tasted sugar straight from the cane so now I am going to add this goal to my bucket list.

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