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

3.7 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

JAN ROGOZINSKI, who holds a Ph.D. in social and cultural history from Princeton University, is the author of Caste, Power, and Law: Social Conflict in Fourteenth-Century Montpellier.
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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: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #685,465 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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
I found this book profoundly disappointing. As previous reviewers have stated, any sort of cohesive history of the Caribbean is extremely rare for a number of reasons, but as a popular West Indian saying reminds us, Half the Story Has Never Been Told. In this respect, this book is an egregious offender, representing only a highly eurocentric perspective which several times appears to be directing unfounded criticism in a disparaging manner at the older but brilliant historical works of the late Dr. Eric Williams, who in my opinion is still the only historian, to date, to actually write a fair and arguably complete history of the Caribbean (From Columbus To Castro, Capitalism And Slavery, British Historians And the West Indies). The only reason I enjoyed this book at all, as it contained nothing I hadn't previously read elsewhere with greater eloquence, was that it concisely demonstrates the deliberate obfuscation of the history and cultures of indigenous persons and persons of color in this hemisphere by adherents of European colonialism and neo-colonialism; this elucidates a disturbing but enduring contribution by European historians to the misinformation and disinformation surrounding the Caribbean in both past and present.
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