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A Brief History of the Caribbean: From the Arawak and Carib to the Present Paperback – September 1, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; Subsequent edition (September 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452281938
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452281936
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #169,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

A freelance writer specializing in historical and technical subjects, Jan Rogozinski holds a Ph.D. in social and cultural history from Princeton University.

Customer Reviews

A very well researched book.
Brian C. Alleyne
I believe that the author relies too much on the economics of the region while avoiding telling us important events and information on the region.
Jorge I. Villanueva
If you are a West Indian or interested in the history of the West Indies this book is not for you.
The Sesh

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Eric on September 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book for the lay student of the Caribbean. The author provides a wonderful array and facts and stories giving the book just the right feel between textbook and a readable work. All of the necessary details pour out to give the reader an amazing look into the heritage of the Caribbean. A special admiration goes to the author for his work in explaining the role of pirates (or privateers, depending on the day) in the power politics of the imperial rivalries in the Caribbean. A slight criticism comes in Rogonzinki's descriptions of the Native Americans, which seems to agree with the paternalistic descriptions of them put forth by the colonizers. But aside from that and similar conservative slants, this is an excellent book.
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76 of 103 people found the following review helpful By Larry Ziegler-Otero, Ph.D. on February 10, 2004
Format: Paperback
I made the mistake of ordering this book (under time pressure) for a class on Caribbean Civilization, based largely on a quick perusal of the index and an estimate of the reading level. It was a terrible mistake. From his early assertion that "a Christian monarch is not a tyrant . . ." (p.25) to his claim that "Given the sparcity of the evidence it is difficult to judge how well slaves were treated." (52) despite the enormous body of documentation of the horrific treatment of slaves in the Americas, this author reveals a truly apalling ultra right wing pro-US and at times almost racist bias. His apologia for Columbus, the initiator of the genocide of the Caribbean and a wholesale slave dealer himself (of natives sent to Europe) is deeply offensive. His characterization of Puerto Rico's plight is ignorant and insulting (he equates "commonwealth" the euphamism for the continued colonial occupation of the island with independence and self government!). Not to mention his implicit support throughout for neoliberal notions of "free trade" and the development model of the WTO. But perhaps most shocking is his hyperbolic, rabid and emotionally charged attack on Cuba -- he sounds like a spokesman for one of the Miami based anti-Castro terrorist organizations rather than a scholar or serious thinker. If you want to develop an understanding of the Caribbean DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK! Some better, more balanced choices would include: John Gilmore's "Faces of the Caribbean", Mark Kurlansky's "A Continent of Islands", or Eric Williams' "From Columbus to Castro"; for treatments of individual countries good places to start include Hugh Thomas' "Cuba", Maldonado-Denis' "Puerto Rico: A Socio-historical Interpretation", or Paul Farmer's "The Uses of Haiti."
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful By dennis wentraub on March 11, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a densely documented chronicle that will be of interest to the general reader for its explanation of how the distinct Caribbean island cultures developed from their popular discovery in 1492 to the present. More serious students of the subject will find a veritable library of reference material in the appendix of suggested readings. Visitors to the region will have a better understanding of the similarities and differences of these island communities based on the historical specifics of their political and social history. Today the importance of tourism, offshore banking, "assembly" factories, and indeed the drug trade are evident. But in the beginning it was a lust for gold that mesmerized Spanish explorers. The "Black Legend" that was Spanish settlement brought inhumanity and disease and wiped-out the idigenous peoples. The envy of the English, French, and Dutch helped launch the age of buccaneers who acted more and sometimes less on their behalf to steal Spanish plunder. With a greater European commitment sugar plantations took hold requiring the cheapest form of labor - slavery. Dutch business acumen in international trade, specifically in the crucial areas of lending, insurance, and marketing, enabled them to establish the infrastructure of an industry. The gradual abolition of slavery began in Great Britain, and here organized religion gets credit for bringing credible pressure on the government. Rogozinski's commentary on current issues in the Caribbean basin is just as helpful, as say, in the matter of Cuba. There is little to explain Fidel Castro's early, consistent, deep-rooted enmity towards the United States in these pages. What does seem clear is that U.S.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a well-written and fast-paced history of the Caribbean. It does it's job admirably well. It begins with a topographical overview of the islands - what type of islands they are, what their climate and soil is like. It then takes the reader on a trip through time, beginning with the Native American peoples, through Columbus's discovery of the islands (yes, I wrote "discovery" - the concept of which is dealt with in a sidebar), to colonization.

Now, any history of the Caribbean is going to deal primarily with three things: sugar, slavery, and piracy. Of these three, piracy is the most fun to read about. Of course, there is the perfunctory disdain of the role of the tourist in the Caribbean, which may or may not be true (it all depends on the tourist). The book is supplemented with useful charts, maps, and pictures from the islands.

If there is any fault with the book, it's just that it is an overview book. It is prone to the dangers of the genre - it deals with its subjects in broad strokes in order to tell THE ENTIRE STORY. Rogozinski is honest in pointing this out. Many of the really fun history books focus on a particular incident in history and focus on it in great detail. Personally, I was less interested in the coverage of recent politics on the islands. (Although the sections on Haiti and Cuba were fascinating.)

I love the Caribbean and I love learning about it. This is a fine place to start.
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A Brief History of the Caribbean: From the Arawak and Carib to the Present
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