Note: this book appears to be now out of print, but there is an Amazon print-on-demand facility.
The story begins with me as a 17-year-old in Papua, where I first encountered sugar cane, and where, as I later discovered, sugar can was first cultivated, 9000 years ago. The secret of the cane travelled from there to Indonesia, from there to India, and from India to China and Persia, where the Muslims found it, not too long after the time of Muhammad, and they carried it to the Mediterranean, where Crusaders found it.
Sugar was an attractive crop, and it spread around the Mediterranean, then out into the Atlantic, and then to the West Indies on the second voyage of Columbus. It was an industry that grew on slaves both white and black, it supported many wars and made many people very rich. The desire to own sugar islands led France to give up its claim to Canada, and it was taxes on rum, molasses and sugar, as much as on tea, that triggered the American Revolution.
Sugar beet was an alternative to sugar cane in temperate climates, and in the end, it ruined the cane sugar trade -- and provided the ethanol that fuelled some of the German war machine in World War I.
Sugar has long been regarded as sinful or deadly, and alternatives are not free of strange accusations either. There is more, but to get to that, you will need to buy the book. You can read some reviews, if you like. Here is what my publisher says about it. And here is what they have to say about me.
In Australia, you can buy it at Allen and Unwin's shop: you will need to search by title or by my surname -- watch the spelling!
In the US, you can buy it at Amazon.com
And in Europe, you can buy it at Amazon.co.uk
My next book was called Rockets, and it came out in 2003, followed by a book on poisons and poisoners that came out in 2004. There are plans in place for the next two books as well, but each is something completely different. In 2005, a few things went a bit pear-shaped, so my writing was a bit messed-up, but early 2006 saw a book for children on poisons, and now I may usually be found working on a number of projects, because I have now officially retired, which leaves me more time to write. Also, My poisons book has come out in the USA in both hardcover and paperback, and it has also appeared in Polish. Translations are coming out this year in Slovakia, Russia and Korea.
The home page of this set is here.