Caribbean Dispatches: Beyond the Tourist Dream by Jane Bryce

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Caribbean Dispatches takes a highly original approach to one of the world’s most diverse cultures, covering a wide cross-section from Guyana to Trinidad & Tobago in the south to the Bahamas in the north. It offers an entertaining and idiosyncratic collection of personal perspectives on the Caribbean, by 28 writers of different backgrounds, for readers who want to get beneath the exotic surface of the tourist experience. It’s not a guide book, but for the curious it’s full of inside information, with the emphasis on variety, the unexpected and the intimate. It is the ideal companion for anyone fascinated by the Caribbean who wants to find out more, while for those who know the area already, it illuminates hidden corners and takes you further than you’ve ever gone before.

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The Sugar Barons by Matthew Parker

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The contemporary image of the West Indies as paradise islands conceals a turbulent, dramatic and shocking history.
For 200 years after 1650, the West Indies witnessed one of the greatest power struggles of the age, as Europeans made and lost immense fortunes growing and trading in sugar – a commodity so lucrative that it was known as white gold.
This compelling book tells how the islands became by far most valuable and important colonies in the British Empire. How Barbados, scene of the sugar revolution that made the English a nation of voracious consumers, was transformed from a backward outpost into England’s richest colony, powered by the human misery of tens of thousands of enslaved Africans. How this model of coercion and exploitation was exported around the region, producing huge wealth for a few, but creating a society poisoned by war, disease, cruelty and corruption. How Jamaican opulence reached its zenith, and its subsequent calamitous decline; and the growing revulsion against slavery that led to emancipation.
At the heart of The Sugar Barons are the human stories of the families whose fortunes rose and fell with those of the West Indian empire: the family of James Drax, the first sugar baron, who introduced sugar cultivation to Barbados, as well as extensive slavery; the Codringtons, the most powerful family in the Leeward Islands, who struggled to fashion a workable society in the Caribbean but in the end succumbed to corruption and decadence; and the Beckfords, Jamaica’s leading planters, who amassed the greatest sugar fortune of all, only to see it frittered away through the most extraordinary profligacy.
The Sugar Barons reveals how the importance of the West Indies made a crucial contribution to the loss of the North American colonies, and explores the impact of the empire on Britain, where it still constitutes perhaps the darkest episode in our history.
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