The exigencies of sugar have shaped the modern world. This ‘noble condiment’, which was virtually unknown in the West before the Crusades, became by the 15th century as valuable as pearls and as sought after as musk. Over the next couple of centuries desire for the commodity dubbed the ‘white gold’ grew exponentially across all social classes; and so thousands of adventurers from the Old World ‘took ship’ for the New in order to cultivate sugar cane and become rich. Their migration precipitated another mass movement of people, this time a forced one in which millions of African slaves were transported to territories as varied as Brazil and Barbados, Cuba and Louisiana to labour in the cane fields. By the 18th century sugar was as significant to the geopolitics of the age as oil in the 20th century.
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While you're waiting for the March issue of Literary Review to pop through your letterbox, have another read of February's cover piece: Richard Davenport-Hines on the stormy letters Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Hardwick wrote to one another.
What's the worth of being zen when the icecaps are melting and populism looms? The world's leading thinkers including @ronpurser will assess the 'mindfulness' craze at the world's largest philosophy and music festival, @HTLGIFestival, this May. Learn more: http://ow.ly/STu650ywARQ
'Feminists have been caricatured so often that it’s worth recalling the many obstacles placed in the path of women campaigning for equal rights.'
@polblonde on @helenlewis's new book about difficult women throughout history.