For 200 years after 1650 the West Indies were the most fought-over colonies in the world, as Europeans made and lost immense fortunes growing and trading in sugar - a commodity so lucrative that it was known as white gold. Young men, beset by death and disease, an ocean away from the moral anchors of life in Britain, created immense dynastic wealth but produced a society poisoned by war, sickness, cruelty and corruption. The Sugar Barons explores the lives and experiences of those whose fortunes rose and fell with the West Indian empire. From the ambitious and brilliant entrepreneurs, to the grandees wielding power across the Atlantic, to the inheritors often consumed by decadence, disgrace and madness, this is the compelling story of how a few small islands and a handful of families decisively shaped the British Empire.
Born in Central America, Matthew Parker spent part of his childhood in the West Indies, acquiring a life-long fascination with the history of the region. Since graduating from Oxford, he has worked as an editorial consultant on a number of works of history, and written three bestselling books. He now lives with his family in east London.
"Compelling, wonderful ... The Sugar Barons is an exemplary book; history as it should be written" Independent "Gripping ... a compendium of greed, horrible ingenuity and wickedness, but also a fascinating and thoughtful social history" -- William Dalrymple "A shocking tale of corruption and brutality ... an admirable and gripping history" Sunday Times "Very impressive - a meticulously researched piece of work, and so engagingly written ... what a story!" -- Andrea Levy, author of Small Island and Long Song "A tumultuous rollercoaster of a book ... Mr Parker tells an extraordinary, neglected and shameful history with gusto" Economist
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