Review: Rum

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Rum: A Social and Sociable History of the Real Spirit of 1776
by Ian Williams

“The fulcrum of most European imperial ventures during the formative years of the thirteen colonies was not the North American mainland but the Caribbean. From the Spanish Main that hems it to its polyglot islands, the one universal uniting factor for the Caribbean is rum – lots of it, as a living liquid memorial to the time when the lands bedecked around that perfect blue sea were not the tourist playground of North America and Europe but the cockpit of all their rivalries.”

Perhaps no single paragraph throughout Ian Williams’ Rum: A Social and Sociable History of the Real Spirit of 1776 more concisely summarizes this work’s content and tone than this, the opening segment of its tenth chapter. It introduces the idea that pre-revolutionary American history wasn’t centralized in Boston or Philadelphia, but actually the Caribbean – and that the one material that truly greased the wheels of rebellion wasn’t tea, but rum. Rum: A Social and Sociable History focuses largely on rum’s role in the colonies, and how its trade, regulation, and consumption ushered the founding fathers towards revolution. Continue reading