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Publisher's Summary

Piña coladas. Mojitos. Hurricanes. Daiquiris. Mai tais.

Nothing makes a vacation like one of these delightful rum drinks, right? But whether blended with ice and fruit or sipped neatly from a glass tumbler, this sweet and fiery spirit brings with it a fascinating, complicated history that stretches back to colonial times of the 17th century in the Caribbean.

"The history of rum is a tale of both sweetness and sorrow," says historian John Donoghue of Loyola University, Chicago. And, as he puts it, "If told correctly, much like a good bottle of Jamaican overproof, it burns while it inspires."

Professor Donoghue does just that in the Audible Original The History of Rum. Blending politics and economics with culture and beverage appreciation, these 10 lessons reveal how the history of rum not only shaped the drinking culture of the early modern and modern worlds, but how it also helped determine the wider histories of piracy, slavery, abolition, and global capitalism.

Explore the invention of rum as a liquor so strong it was called "kill-devil". Discover classic colonial drinks like flip and stone fence. Meet the real Captain Morgan, who pillaged the Spanish Main for capital to build Jamaica's rum industry, and learn how rum played a crucial role in the early campaigns of George Washington. Chart rum's growing profitability in international markets, which spurred everything from the transatlantic African slave trade to the American Revolution.

Above all, enjoy a 10-lesson toast to 400 years of rum - in all its tragic glory.  

©2020 Audible Originals, LLC (P)2020 Audible Originals, LLC.

About the Creator and Performer

John Donoghue is a tenured professor of history at Loyola University Chicago, where he teaches courses on colonial America, the United States, and the history of the Atlantic world. The author of numerous articles and books on early American and Atlantic history, Professor Donoghue has received over a dozen honors, awards, and fellowships for his teaching and scholarship, including Loyola University Chicago’s Master Teacher Award.

Our favorite moments from The History of Rum

"...bent on a quest to restore rum to respect as a fine spirit."
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"...a zone of fierce, colonial competition."
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  • The History of Rum
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  • The History of Rum
  • "...bent on a quest to restore rum to respect as a fine spirit."
  • The History of Rum
  • "...a zone of fierce, colonial competition."

What listeners say about The History of Rum

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This is not the history of Rum

This is a history of slavery and social injustice as seen by the author. All the talk was of how slaves were used to make rum and the evil of global capitalism. He discussed laws passed to support slavery. The numbers of slaves in colonies. The opposition to Abolition Eyewitness accounts of how slaves were treated. Rum at a certain time in history was the lead in then the rest was about slavery etc. He even discusses how rum was used to cheat the native Americans. And claims the notion this nation was founded on freedom is a lie. He even claims one of the main reasons for becoming a pirate was that the merchants did not give the sailors their fair share of the wealth. That is a purely communist idea. Take any CEO salary and divide it by the number of employees and the results will show a minor increase in wages. Not to say millions in salary is justified. But it is not depriving workers, It is no wonder young people today like socialism and feel guilty if they happened to be born white. This is presented as a history of Rum and is instead a condemnation of capitalism and being white. It is perfectly fine to have that opinion. But at least have the courage to be honest about it. This is a history of slavery and social injustice around the making of Rum. I'll be surprised if this review is ever posted. Liberals tend to squash ideas not in line with their own

22 people found this helpful

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Of great historical importance

This is a very well narrated story that gives profound insight into not only rum and its history but the influence of various trade practices on the history of the United States. I strongly recommend this captivating story in Audible form.

8 people found this helpful

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Dishonest

This isn't a book about rum, it's a book about slavery - and sometimes rum. My real problem with this book is the author's attempt to conflate slavery with "capitalism", a term coined by Marx a hundred years after the slave/rum trade this book focuses on. Slavery has no place in "capitalism" because it is not a relationship based on transactions. The slave is not compensated for his labor in a free and open marketplace, therefore it is not a capitalist institution. The intellectual dishonesty here is not anything I am interested in.

4 people found this helpful

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Not what I was expecting, but still good.

So I picked this up looking for a light listen about rum production techniques, the drink through the ages, and information about different types of rum, etc. That is not what this book is about. I think a more appropriate title would have been something like "A socioeconomic history of rum". This book details rums place in the slave trade and how its creation, use, and abuse influenced trade, the Caribbean, Africa, and America.

3 people found this helpful

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A cocktail of Rum and ??

The history of Rum is week developed, but at the mid of the book it start a mix of anti capitalism and anti america rhetoric.
The Brotherhood of the Coast a well known and documented pirate organization is depicted romantically and in a much favorable way that capitalism or American people fighting for its independence.

2 people found this helpful

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Very interesting...not what I was expecting.

This is a very interesting set of lectures and is well delivered. The professor real does a good job citing sources. He is also very enthusiastic. The one thing I dislike is the narrative tends to over lap and repeat at some junctures. This makes it harder to follow from a linear standpoint. However, this is understandable given focus of the lectures is on different topics. I would say I wasn’t expecting the history to focus so much on pirates but I learned a lot. Overall I would recommend it.

2 people found this helpful

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Jamaican Review

This was really amazing. Thank you for going through the history of this cherished spirit. I’m sending you a virtual toast of Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva, neat.

Cheers

1 person found this helpful

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Rum-ajacent

Maybe 20% of this book was about rum and most of the information that was about rum was quite general or widely known. Glad it was free but not worth the listen time.

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informative!

This is a fascinating look at the history of rum from an economic, social, and political perspective. I knew a little about the triangular trade in molasses/sugar, rum, and slaves, but not many details, nor that rum began mostly as an industrial byproduct rather than a craft beverage. Professor Donoghue is really good at interweaving various strands of history while keeping events clear.

The narration is a little slow, but I found listening at 1.10x speed hit the sweet spot.

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40 minutes of Rum, 5 hours of..

You'll know about the origins of Rum (spoiler; not that exciting), but that only takes a few minutes of facts and story. The rest of the lecture, John Donoghue, presented it as a narrative of political dribble. and Rum becomes a background character. I felt as if he was pushing the Sins of the past and remarking on the fact that there was Rum on the table.

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  • Angel
  • 04-11-22

Majestic

An easy on the ear telling of the whole bloody background to Rum's cruel origins.

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  • Cuddywifted
  • 08-18-21

Not the greatest of courses

A lot of the information is about wider historical issues but not always particularly focused on rum. One lecture was a collection of tales about pirates who may or may not have been drunk at the time. The last lecture was mostly about whiskey, alcohol in general, and the temperance movement which left only five minutes to cover the last 90 years.

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  • Terry Whisker
  • 08-22-20

Brilliant step back into history

Thoroughly captivating, well put together. Once started could not stop.
I like the “spirit”, but the history is much more fascinating.

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  • Matthew
  • 02-24-22

History of rum IN AMERICA

As a dedicated rum drinker I found these lectures interesting, but the title is misleading. The author focuses solely on rum's history in the Americas. Barely any mention of the role of rum in the Royal Navy and no mention of the rum rebellion in New South Wales. Pity.