The Patriot Resource - American Revolution

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A Social and Sociable History of the Real Spirit of 1776

by Ian Williams
Published by Nation Books
August 2005
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Book Review from The Patriot Resource:
Ian Williams' Rum is a laid-back look at the history of rum. Williams concentrates on North America and the Caribbean, but Europe and South America make several apperances. Though Williams does highlight rum as a large factor in the American Revolution, the book actually surveys rum production from colonial times up to present day. Williams obviously enjoys the subject-matter, but does not attempt to give it an entirely serious treatment. He instead maintains a levity that keeps things moving along. He has to tread a fine line as to how much levity can be used since rum was originally the by-product of sugar cane plantations that were manned by slaves and had a high turnover rate. Williams constantly returns to rum's birth in slavery rather than brushing it aside..

Though Rum meanders around the globe, it stays rooted in the North American British colonies at least until the rise of whiskey in America. The closing chapters tour the world, but mostly settle in the Caribbean. The book covers the politics (such as the on-going spat between Bacardi and Fidel Castro), economics and even refinement of the process of making rum. The one element of the book that feels out-of-place are some comments about modern-day politics that bear no ties to rum. These same comments will date the book which is otherwise an excellent survey of the history of rum.

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