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Ever since Christopher Columbus stepped off the Santa Maria and announced that he had arrived in the Orient, the Caribbean has been a stage for projected fantasies and competition between world powers. In Empire’s Crossroads, historian Carrie Gibson offers a vivid, panoramic view of this complex region and its rich, important history.
That fateful landing in 1492 soon launched a savage competition for West Indian territory that would last centuries. Gibson compellingly traces the ups and downs of European imperial expansion—including the first cash crops, failed settlements, and pirating on the open seas—but she also brilliantly describes daily life on the islands. Creole societies complicated traditional ideas about class and race, and by the end of the eighteenth century, plantation slaves in Saint-Domingue had launched the Haitian Revolution, the world’s only successful slave revolt. As European control of the Caribbean loosened over the next 150 years, America was on the rise, ushering in a new era of foreign influence and the birth of the tourism industry that still thrives today. Incredibly multi-faceted and approachably written, Empire’s Crossroads encompasses the narratives of more than twenty islands and reinterprets five centuries of history have been underappreciated for far too long.