“Myths and Realities of Caribbean History is well organized and well written. Arguments are easy to follow, and it includes a large number of references. Figures and tables are of good quality and appropriate. This book will be of interest to a wide variety of people in the entire Caribbean, tourists, Americans interested in the region, and various kinds of scholars that specialize in this area.”—L. Antonio Curet, Assistant Curator, The Field Museum
“This is an extremely important book. Reid has selected some of the most cherished beliefs about the native peoples of the insular Caribbean and demonstrates that these beliefs are wrong. The book provides a new view of the past, and clears away much of the colonialist baggage associated with the history of the region as it is currently being taught.”—William F. Keegan, Curator of Caribbean Archaeology, Florida Museum of Natural History
Archaeologist Basil Reid chooses 11 conventional beliefs about Caribbean history, subjects them to analysis by means of the most recent archaeological, historical, and ethnographic research, and demonstrates their status as myths. Many of these myths arise from Eurocentric assessments and the assumption that the writing of history must be founded on written records. While exposing myths such as cannibalism and the Carib-Arawak dichotomy, Reid efficiently and clearly sorts out the successions, subsistence economies, forms of social organization, and cultural affiliations of the many Amerindian groups that populated the Caribbean for 7,000 years. In discussing Columbus, he summarizes evidence showing that Columbus did not write the version of the diaries we have today, and that his arrival was not the beginning of Caribbean history. One chapter valuable beyond its Caribbean interest summarizes the research and debates on the dispersion of syphilis and other treponemal diseases, a process not yet fully understood. Reid's conclusion emphasizes the role of archaeology in clarifying Caribbean history and the nature of archaeology as part of anthropology. Highly recommended.--CHOICE
About the Author
Basil A. Reid is author of Archaeology and Geoinformatics: Case Studies from the Caribbean and Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of the West Indies in St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago.