'A shocking tale of corruption and brutality . . . an admirable and gripping history '
' Very impressive - a meticulously researched piece of work, and so engagingly written . . . what a story !'
Andrea Levy, author of Small Island and Long Song
The familiar image of the West Indies as paradise islands conceals a turbulent past. For 200 years after 1650 they 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 a compelling story of how a few small islands and a handful of families decisively shaped the British Empire.
'A fascinating and bloody tale. . . an antidote to the modern strain of neo-conservative history that says empire was rather a good thing'
'A tumultuous rollercoaster of a book . . . Mr Parker tells an extraordinary, neglected and shameful history with gusto '
'A magnificent account of a bleak and torrid era, told with great humanity . . . as a portrait of the heat, horror and vanity of that time, The Sugar Barons is surely without equal '