Oliver Balch

The Great Bean Counter

Coffeeland: A History

By

Allen Lane 433pp £25 order from our bookshop
 

On 31 October 1979, two jeeps full of armed men from the People’s Revolutionary Army of El Salvador burst into Jaime Hill’s compound in San Salvador, dispatched his security personnel and promptly kidnapped him. They demanded an $8-million ransom, plus Hill’s armoured car. The Scotch-drinking playboy rustled up half the money and was eventually released, sin vehículo.

So runs the adrenaline-fuelled opening scene of Coffeeland. In the spirit of all classic whodunnits, Augustine Sedgewick delivers the crime upfront. But who are the main players? And how did we get here? The remainder of this erudite and engrossing socioeconomic history provides the answers to these two basic questions.

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