The first account of Caribbean slavery to draw from the plantation records of several different sugar colonies, this book examines the attempts made by British West Indian planters to improve the treatment of their slaves, partly in response to the anti-slavery movement. Ward argues that although the measures taken did raise the standard of living and productive efficiency of plantation slaves, "amelioration" contained serious weaknesses that made it ultimately ineffective as a means of defending the institution of slavery. Though focused on the British West Indies, the book's main theme--the potential for reform and economic development in slave-based societies--will hold wider significance for a variety of economic and social historians.
'Ward's book takes its place as a necessary reference point in the long-running debate on "capitalism and slavery".'
Times Literary Supplement
'careful, well-documented, and significant study ... in the areas on which it concentrates ... it brings forward very valuable evidence and arguments'
Michael Tadman, University of Liverpool, Business History
'careful, well-documented, and significant study'
Tom Donnelly, Coventry Polytechnic, Business History
'a well-researched and well-written study of both the short- and long-term changes in sugar planting ... It is difficult in the short space allotted to this review to do justice to the penetrating analysis and fine judgment displayed by the author.'
Richard B. Sheridan, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Slavery & Abolition