Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom, and Science by Marc Aronson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I found a good companion book for teachers who cover the issue of slavery. Sugar Changed the World by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos firmly establishes the immutable influence which sugar has imposed on the world. The core component in the history of slavery and human rights worldwide sugar has left behind it a trail of blood unequaled by any product, including cotton.
The book appeared during many of my browsing sessions on Amazon.com over the holidays. Always combing booksellers for new YA books, this presented itself as something for the teen community. What you get is a reference book, a little dry, which traces the human history behind the discovery and implementation of sugar cane to beet sugar to contemporary chemical processes of creating sweeteners.
I see the book being put to use in a classroom environment where you might be looking for something to challenge a student who might test out of a unit (if you do that). Perhaps you utilize the extension project for students--this would be one resource which students in Social Studies or Geography classes could certainly put to good use.
My own personal experience has been that Americans are taught about the slavery wrapped within our own dark history, but little is taught about slavery in a global sense. This book ties it all together. It is interesting to read that the world abused and then adjusted their points of view on slaves--"All Men are Created Equal" was an international concept long before the words were penned in America.
We come to learn that England imported more slaves than any country in the world (over sugar)...Hawaii is the most ethnically diverse region on the plant (because of sugar cane)...France sold the Louisiana Territory to make enough money to pay for its wars in Haiti (over sugar) which they lost...Ghandi's mantra of passive resistance or Satyagraha ("truth with firmness") began before he led his people to take India back from the British, it began when an indentured Indian slave came to him--battered cruelly while working in sugarcane.
A teacher can hand this book to a student studying Napolean, Hawaii, the Caribbean, European History, American History...it is a versatile resource. While it is not entertaining and dry in places it is a terribly interesting story worth the twenty bucks. I'd imagine many teachers could put this to use in their classrooms.
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