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Myths and Realities of Caribbean History (Caribbean Archaeology and Ethnohistory) Paperback – April 12, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

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.
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Product Details

  • Series: Caribbean Archaeology and Ethnohistory
  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: University Alabama Press; 1 edition (April 12, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0817355340
  • ISBN-13: 978-0817355340
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #714,759 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
This scholarly book uses a "MythBusters" format to discuss what is known about the history of the Caribbean up to and including the time when Columbus landed. Don't panic because of the word scholarly. While it probably has a couple hundred references throughout, this book is still totally approachable with terms defined nicely both in the body of the book and also in a glossary. The author uses all the tools available to modern archaeology, everything from excavated pottery and bone fragments to linguistics and computer models of the ocean and infectious disease epidemiology, to drive home the point that there were many complex cultures in the Caribbean before Europeans arrived. The complexity actually is a bit hard to follow in some places (just because there are so many subgroups at play) but that is mostly offset by excellent well annotated maps. While I like the book it would be stronger with more pictures instead of line drawings. There is a lot of evidence about the cultures that revolves around pottery shards that are drawn. There really should be links to color images on the web to bring those to life. The only other gripe I have with the book is at times it feels rather defensive and like the author thinks the reader does not believe that there are non-European cultures in the world. Despite these minor flaws, this book is great if you want to learn about the precolonial Caribbean.Read more ›
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A very informative book about pre-Columbian archeology and history of the Caribbean. Clears many doubts on hearsay and myths. Dr. Reid assembled his book in a very professional and easily understood manuscript. I highly recommend this book for those interested in Caribbean history.
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