This study examines the history of the sugar economy and the peculiar development of plantation society over a three hundred year period in Bahia, a major sugar plantation zone and an important terminus of the Atlantic slave trade. Drawing on little-used archival sources, plantations accounts, and notarial records, Professor Schwartz has examined through both quantitative and qualitative methods the various groups that made up plantation society. While he devotes much attention to masters and slaves, he views slavery ultimately as part of a larger structure of social and economic relations. The peculiarities of sugar-making and the nature of plantation labour are used throughout the book as keys to an understanding of.roles and relationships in plantation society. A comparative perspective is also employed, so that studies of slavery elsewhere in the Americas inform the analysis, while at many points direct comparisons of the Bahian case with other plantation societies are also made.