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In the late 1630s, lured by the promise of the New World, Andrea Stuart s earliest known maternal ancestor, George Ashby, set sail from England to settle in Barbados He fell into the life of a sugar plantation owner by mere chance, but by the time he harvested his first crop, a revolution was fully under way the farming of sugar cane, and the swiftly increasing demands for sugar worldwide, would not only lift George Ashby from abject poverty and shape the lives of his descendants, but it would also bind together ambitious white entrepreneurs and enslaved black workers in a strangling embrace Stuart uses her own family story from the seventeenth century through the present as the pivot for this epic tale of migration, settlement, survival, slavery and the making of the Americas.As it grew, the sugar trade enriched Europe as never before, financing the Industrial Revolution and fueling the Enlightenment And, as well, it became the basis of many economies in South America, played an important part in the evolution of the United States as a world power and transformed the Caribbean into an archipelago of riches But this sweet and hugely profitable trade white gold, as it was known had profoundly less palatable consequences in its precipitation of the enslavement of Africans to work the fields on the islands and, ultimately, throughout the American continents.Interspersing the tectonic shifts of colonial history with her family s experience, Stuart explores the interconnected themes of settlement, sugar and slavery with extraordinary subtlety and sensitivity In examining how these forces shaped her own family its genealogy, intimate relationships, circumstances of birth, varying hues of skin she illuminates how her family, among millions of others like it, in turn transformed the society in which they lived, and how that interchange continues to this day Shifting between personal and global history, Stuart gives us a deepened understanding of the connections between continents, between black and white, between men and women, between the free and the enslaved It is a story brought to life with riveting and unparalleled immediacy, a story of fundamental importance to the making of our world. In The Late S, Lured By The Promise Of The New World, Andrea Stuart S Earliest Known Maternal Ancestor, George Ashby, Set Sail From England To Settle In Barbados He Fell Into The Life Of A Sugar Plantation Owner By Mere Chance, But By The Time He Harvested His First Crop, A Revolution Was Fully Under Way The Farming Of Sugar Cane, And The Swiftly Increasing Demands For Sugar Worldwide, Would Not Only Lift George Ashby From Abject Poverty And Shape The Lives Of His Descendants, But It Would Also Bind Together Ambitious White Entrepreneurs And Enslaved Black Workers In A Strangling Embrace Stuart Uses Her Own Family Story From The Seventeenth Century Through The Present As The Pivot For This Epic Tale Of Migration, Settlement, Survival, Slavery And The Making Of The AmericasAs It Grew, The Sugar Trade Enriched Europe As Never Before, Financing The Industrial Revolution And Fueling The Enlightenment And, As Well, It Became The Basis Of Many Economies In South America, Played An Important Part In The Evolution Of The United States As A World Power And Transformed The Caribbean Into An Archipelago Of Riches But This Sweet And Hugely Profitable Trade White Gold, As It Was Known Had Profoundly Less Palatable Consequences In Its Precipitation Of The Enslavement Of Africans To Work The Fields On The Islands And, Ultimately, Throughout The American ContinentsInterspersing The Tectonic Shifts Of Colonial History With Her Family S Experience, Stuart Explores The Interconnected Themes Of Settlement, Sugar And Slavery With Extraordinary Subtlety And Sensitivity In Examining How These Forces Shaped Her Own Family Its Genealogy, Intimate Relationships, Circumstances Of Birth, Varying Hues Of Skin She Illuminates How Her Family, Among Millions Of Others Like It, In Turn Transformed The Society In Which They Lived, And How That Interchange Continues To This Day Shifting Between Personal And Global History, Stuart Gives Us A Deepened Understanding Of The Connections Between Continents, Between Black And White, Between Men And Women, Between The Free And The Enslaved It Is A Story Brought To Life With Riveting And Unparalleled Immediacy, A Story Of Fundamental Importance To The Making Of Our World As compelling a family memoir as you are ever likely to read Although very well written, the read is difficult because of the subject matter there is very little joy as the author pulls no punches regarding her family s role in the sugar based slavery of Barbados The descriptions of the sugar business and the slaves central role in it are fascinating and brutal And shameful The blending of family history with the history of Barbados is, for the most part, very well done, although I tended to skip a few sections on the family tree where there was no hope of remembering all the names This was not a major detraction By and large, the family references made the history poignant and memorable.Stuart also does a good job showing the modern consequences of the slave history The most thrilling part of the book is the perseverance of those who were enslaved as they struggled and still struggle to make their way in a world they didn t create I came away feeling we need to honor that struggle than we do. I read this for my book club It had an interesting connection to another book we read earlier in our 2015 16 season, The Black Count Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo, which briefly touches on France and Haiti in some of the same time period.The author traces her maternal family line back to 1620, when the first Ashby emigrated from England to Barbados Like many white landowners in the Caribbean, he started a sugar plantation The next few generations built the plantation and moved from low on the pyramid planters to the upper crusts of the island, largely due to slave labor and luck hurricanes hitting other plantations , etc And just like in most stories of slavery, the white land owners had children with the female slaves This is simultaneously the story of the Ashby family and Barbados.I feel like I have learned a lot in the last 10 years about slavery in the south, but I did not know much about slavery in the Caribbean There are some parallels of course, but the international trade aspect of the islands make it a bit complicated The author is focused on Barbados but provides helpful comparisons with what was going on in Haiti and Jamaica, both countries I have been to in that same period of time without knowing much about the history She also touches on 20th century Jamaica, making me want to return to A Brief History of Seven Killings, which I started but didn t finish.It should be interesting to talk about in book club My thoughts The author effectively blends the history of Barbados with the history of her ancestors on the island so it is both a history of Barbados and a history of her family so the book is both universal and intimate The reading experience was uneven for me I thought the second half was a better flow and read easily and was relatable As this is the history of Barbados, sugar and empire in the Caribbean the story is organized around her first identifiable ancestor to come to Barbados maternal ancestor George Ashby in the late 1630s and that like most of the families in the Caribbean started out ethnically white and over time have become predominately black She does a good job of showing this transition though the book meanderings in places before we get to this transition Much time is spent on why, what, how Barbados and Caribbean was during this initial period what the European powers wanted from the Caribbean There are interesting tidbits of history here that at first pirates were encouraged in the Caribbean as at the time the European powers were at war with each other and the Caribbean was too far away to effectively fight in Caribbean so the pirates helped to keep the status quo on who owned each island but when Europe was settled then these countries declared war on the pirates Also interesting was the references of the early white settlers in Barbados who left for the US after a series of hurricanes and how they brought their slaves and helped formed influenced of the slave cultures along the Carolinas, The author is an Afro Caribbean but it took a little time to get to her black ancestors and at this point the book picked up for me I liked how the author spoke to all of the rebellions and acts against slavery by the blacks and the effect of the Haitian revolution on the island The author explains the habits rules traditions of Barbados and the interaction between the masters and slaves speaks how some of it was different from US and other islands how white master ancestor acknowledged his non white ancestors with them having two names while other slaves only one name how building this mixed race group was important to be a buffer as whites were in the minority, etc The author does a good job of showing Barbados post emancipation and the issues that came with it for the island, region, and the world It is apparent that the author has done a great deal of research to speak to the universal and the specifics and there is an extensive bibliography at the end I think this book would be interesting to those who are interested to those wanted to learn about slavery and its legacy in the Caribbean from a Barbados pov This book is a welcome addition to the canon of our past and how there is so much for us to learn about who we are today and as many have said the past is never really past. Sugar in the blood is a term often used to describe a certain type of illness The title is particularly appropriate for this book in that it not only describes a sociological illness, but the product that runs as an influence over a culture, an island, and a family A person can develop an addiction to sweetness and, in this case, create acceptable excuses for the slavery that helps it to prosper I was initially confounded by the book because the author s agenda appeared to be all over the place It s a family history, it s the history of Barbados, it s a sociological analysis of why evil can be easily accepted, it s an exploration of empires and culture, and it is a self reflection by a writer torn by conflicting feelings I have honestly never read another book quite like it However, the result of exploring so many dimensions at one time is an enhanced understanding from multiple dimensions There is much here for the casual reader and the historian alike New life journeys, pirates, raging natural disasters, rebellions, and a devastating portrayal of the peculiar institution of slavery that changes everyone involved with it Although I had read a bit about the Caribbean island history some years ago, I felt that I have a thorough knowledge now delivered in a manner that was involving, easy to understand, and relatable to many societal issues that we face now It is definitely worth the read One side note to myself Is it possible that Ian Fleming was aware of Drax Hall when he was seeking another villain for James Bond From BBC Radio 4 Book of the week Four writers create a personal portrait, exploring their sense of identity and what it feels like to be at home in Britain Sugar In The Blood by Andrea Stuart Read by Lorraine Burroughs.This selection of original non fiction is taken from a glorious and sometimes feistily cantankerous celebration of Britain.Andrea Stuart arrived from Barbados in the mid 1970s, aged 14 yrs Hers was a plantation owning Bajan family descended from an 18th century English emigrant The essay explores the painful contradictions of race, money and class all transcended by that arbitrary signifier, skin colour.Abridged and Produced by Jill WatersA Waters Company production for BBC Radio 4.http www.bbc.co.uk programmes b01h5xcj The thing that made this book great the author s own ancestral research in telling the story of slave trade plantation life in Barbados and similarly for other colonized sugar islands also contributed to some of its pitfalls In Part 1, Stuart continues to refer to her great grandfather, George Ashby, with about 10 greats all written out right there in the text and in the audiobook She does this a number of times, and it was just the beginning of some lax editorial decisions There was so much research and then a big info dump on the page When the original sources are scant or non existant, Stuart falls into conjecture this would have happened they would have thought, stated frequently A little editing work would have made for a positive reading experience, and a tighter story.Part 2 evened out, and much time is spent with her ancestors in the early part of the 19th century.This section was absorbing, had records to pull from, and placed her family s history in a broader context of events in around the Caribbean, the UK, and in the US Part 3 includes her grandparents and parents generation in the US and back in Barbados, coming together for Barbados independence from Britain in 1966, and her youth in the UK and Barbados. This book was a conglameration of heard it a dozen times before and really that s so interesting The first category gave good context for the latter I also rather enjoyed the author s personal great great great grandparent details because they gave a human face to the story of Barbados, about which I knew almost nothing specifically, and I learned a lot about the slave rebellions of the Carribean and the differences between types of slavery on the tropical sugar plantations and that of the American South.Still, though, if I had to recommend one non fiction book about slavery and the Columbian Exchange, it would be 1493 If I was allowed two, it would be 1493 and The Black Count If you read BOTH of those and are still hungry for MORE books on the complexities of race and class in the colonial world, THEN I would recommend Sugar in the Blood Received from Goodreads first reads.3.5 starsThis is such a well written book and an obvious labor of love from the Author This book is also dense with history It is obvious that the Author did a tremendous amount of research prior to writing this book Not just research about her family but research on migration, life onboard a boat ship, life of the endendured servent, slave trade, life of a slave, and life on Barbados This is not a fast read The amount of information that is presented does take some time to get through, but it is worth the time and effort.