Non-Fiction Book of the Month
Frontlist highlight from the Little, Brown rights team
Every month we throw the spotlight on a wonderful frontlist, non-fiction title and this month it is the turn of SUGAR, by James Walvin.
An important new history of sugar that encompasses both today's obesity epidemic and slavery. Walvin argues that we can only fully understand our contemporary dietary problems by coming to terms with their genesis, considering the relationship between society and sweetness over a long historical span dating back two centuries to a time when sugar was vital to the burgeoning European domestic and colonial economies.
The story of sugar, and of mankind's desire for sweetness in food and drink is a compelling, though confusing story. It is also an historical story.
The story of mankind's love of sweetness - the need to consume honey, cane sugar, beet sugar and chemical sweeteners - has important historical origins. To take a simple example, two centuries ago, cane sugar was vital to the burgeoning European domestic and colonial economies. For all its recent origins, today's obesity epidemic - if that is what it is - did not emerge overnight, but instead evolved from a complexity of historical forces which stretch back centuries. We can only fully understand this modern problem, by coming to terms with its genesis and history: and we need to consider the historical relationship between society and sweetness over a long historical span. This book seeks to do just that: to tell the story of how the consumption of sugar - the addition of sugar to food and drink - became a fundamental and increasingly troublesome feature of modern life.
Walvin's book is the heir to Sidney Mintz's Sweetness and Power, a brilliant sociological account, but now thirty years old. In addition, the problem of sugar, and the consequent intellectual and political debate about the role of sugar, has been totally transformed in the years since that book's publication.
James Walvin is the author of many books on slavery and modern social history. His book, Crossings, was published by Reaktion Books in 2013. His first book, with Michael Craton, was a detailed study of a sugar plantation: A Jamaican Plantation, Worthy Park, 1670-1970 (Toronto, 1970). He became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2006, and in 2008 was awarded an OBE for services to scholarship.
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