Cover image for Bittersweet : the story of sugar
Bittersweet : the story of sugar
Macinnis, Peter.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Crows Nest NSW : Allen & Unwin, 2002.
Physical Description:
xxv, 190 pages : maps ; 20 cm
The beginnings -- The spread of sugar -- Sugar in the New World -- The English and the sugar business -- Fighting over sugar -- A science of sugar -- Rum and politics -- The end of slavery in the Americas -- Emancipation's harvest -- The rise of technology -- Labour problems -- Sugar in the twentieth century -- Epilogue: the costs and benefits.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TX560.S9 M3 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



This social and historical exploration traces the history of sugarcane from its home in New Guinea to Shakespeare's England. Fascinating sugar lore and anecdotes are included, such as how Queen Elizabeth I became so partial to hippocras (mulled wine), sugared almonds, and pastilles that her teeth turned completely black. Explored are the political and sociological impacts of sugar on the world and the tremendous riches available to the unscrupulous few who grew and sold it. The days of manual processing are described, when fortunes were built on the backbreaking labor of slaves. The resulting wars and geopolitical shifts that have shaped the modern world are discussed in detail.

Author Notes

Peter Macinnis is the author of the Science in Action series, which includes Exploring the Environment , The Desert Puffin Originals , and The Rain Forest Puffin Originals .

Reviews 1

Choice Review

The history of sugar is long and involved, but Macinnis has created an overview that is relatively light reading. The book covers a tremendous amount of information in a short space, following sugar from its beginnings as a grass in New Guinea, around the world, to its introduction into Australia. Production of sugar followed an expanding world as people increasingly traded and moved farther from their homes. He takes a somewhat lighthearted but serious look at the human interactions in sugar production. Sugar was an early product for Europeans to produce in the new lands into which they expanded, mostly moving farther and farther east. Some of the strength of this work is the way conditions of living and labor are placed in the context of the times, which Macinnis does often, and well. Overall, this account is more social than technical, describing in general terms the process of sugar production, but more specifically the people involved. A few recipes and maps are used to enliven the text. The eclectic bibliography includes more scholarly works if one wishes to pursue the subject. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels. N. Duran Texas A&M University