100 books like An Account, Much Abbreviated, of the Destruction of the Indies With Related Texts

By Bartolomé de Las Casas, Andrew Hurley (translator),

Here are 100 books that An Account, Much Abbreviated, of the Destruction of the Indies With Related Texts fans have personally recommended if you like An Account, Much Abbreviated, of the Destruction of the Indies With Related Texts. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Worlds of Christopher Columbus

Ida Altman Author Of Life and Society in the Early Spanish Caribbean: The Greater Antilles, 1493-1550

From my list on what happened after Columbus got to the Caribbean.

Why am I passionate about this?

Throughout my career as a historian I’ve been interested in the expansion of the Iberian world and its consequences for societies and cultures in Spain as well as Spanish America, especially Mexico. I knew that the Caribbean, the first site of European activity in the Americas, played an important role in that story, yet paradoxically it didn’t seem to receive much attention from historians, at least in the U.S. When I finally decided to focus my research on the period immediately following Columbus’s first voyages, I entered into a complex and dynamic world of danger, ambition, exploitation, and novelty. I hope to open that world to others in my book.

Ida's book list on what happened after Columbus got to the Caribbean

Ida Altman Why did Ida love this book?

This lively and accessible book contextualizes Columbus’s complex life and career within the multiple ‘worlds’– Genoa, Portugal, Spain, the Caribbean – that he inhabited and the intellectual and political developments that shaped him. Columbus was controversial in his own lifetime and remains so to the present day. Neither justifying nor condemning him for his role in bringing Europeans to the Americas, these two experienced historians lay to rest the myths and misinformation that have distorted our understanding of this larger-than-life historical figure. This book is always my starting point when I need to know something about Columbus. 

By William D. Phillips Jr., Carla Rahn Phillips,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Worlds of Christopher Columbus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Columbus was born in the mid-fifteenth century, Europe was largely isolated from the rest of the Old World - Africa and Asia - and ignorant of the existence of the world of the Western Hemisphere. The voyages of Christopher Columbus opened a period of European exploration and empire building that breached the boundaries of those isolated worlds and changed the course of human history. This book describes the life and times of Christopher Columbus on the 500th aniversary of his first voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in 1492. Since ancient times, Europeans had dreamed of discovering new routes to…


Book cover of Hispaniola: Caribbean Chiefdoms in the Age of Columbus

Juan José Ponce Vázquez Author Of Islanders and Empire: Smuggling and Political Defiance in Hispaniola, 1580–1690

From my list on the Spanish Caribbean in the early colonial period.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born and raised in Sevilla, Spain, a city with profound ties to Spain’s colonial past in the Americas. Since college I've been fascinated by colonial history. Being a little contrarian, while most Latin American colonial scholars I knew focused on Mexico and Peru (the richest Spanish colonies in the so-called “New World”) I decided to focus my attention on their polar opposite: less prosperous colonies (from the perspective of the crown anyway), island societies, and places that were relegated to the margins. I love learning about the men and women in these colonial societies and trying to tell their stories to the best of my abilities.

Juan's book list on the Spanish Caribbean in the early colonial period

Juan José Ponce Vázquez Why did Juan love this book?

This is an oldie but a goodie. There are not many accessible books about the earliest years of Spanish colonization, but this is probably one of the best. With a terrific narrative style, Wilson showcases the years of Columbus's leadership at the head of the earliest colonizing efforts, and the increasing dissatisfaction of Spanish colonists towards Columbus, who was seen by many as a tyrant. In addition to this, Wilson reads between the lines of Spanish documents, and with the help of archaeological evidence, provides the reader with insightful interpretations of indigenous life, actions, and motivations.

By Samuel M. Wilson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Hispaniola as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1492 Hispaniola was inhabited by the Taino, an Indian group whose ancestors had moved into the Caribbean archipelago from lowland South America. This book examines the early years of the contact period in the Caribbean and reconstructs the social and political organization of the Taino.


Book cover of Of Cannibals and Kings: Primal Anthropology in the Americas

Ida Altman Author Of Life and Society in the Early Spanish Caribbean: The Greater Antilles, 1493-1550

From my list on what happened after Columbus got to the Caribbean.

Why am I passionate about this?

Throughout my career as a historian I’ve been interested in the expansion of the Iberian world and its consequences for societies and cultures in Spain as well as Spanish America, especially Mexico. I knew that the Caribbean, the first site of European activity in the Americas, played an important role in that story, yet paradoxically it didn’t seem to receive much attention from historians, at least in the U.S. When I finally decided to focus my research on the period immediately following Columbus’s first voyages, I entered into a complex and dynamic world of danger, ambition, exploitation, and novelty. I hope to open that world to others in my book.

Ida's book list on what happened after Columbus got to the Caribbean

Ida Altman Why did Ida love this book?

This slim volume features six documents relating to the early years following Columbus’s arrival in the Caribbean, including two by Columbus himself. The core of the volume is anthropologist Neil Whitehead’s translation of the account written by Román Pané, the Jeronymite friar sent by Columbus to live among an Indigenous group in the northern part of Hispaniola. There Pané tried, with very limited success, to spread Christianity. He also set down in writing the origin myths and beliefs described by his Native informants, a unique reflection of the Indigenous world that existed when Europeans arrived on the islands. I like this collection both for the range of documents included and Whitehead’s insights from his scholarly and ethnographic work in the Caribbean.  

By Neil L. Whitehead,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Of Cannibals and Kings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Of Cannibals and Kings collects the very earliest accounts of the native peoples of the Americas, including selections from the descriptions of Columbus's first two voyages; documents reflecting the initial colonial occupation in Haiti, Venezuela, and Guyana; and the first ethnographic account of the Tainos by the missionary Ramon Pane. This primal anthropology directly guided a rapacious discovery of the lands of both wild cannibals and golden kings.


Book cover of Tropical Babylons: Sugar and the Making of the Atlantic World, 1450-1680

Ida Altman Author Of Life and Society in the Early Spanish Caribbean: The Greater Antilles, 1493-1550

From my list on what happened after Columbus got to the Caribbean.

Why am I passionate about this?

Throughout my career as a historian I’ve been interested in the expansion of the Iberian world and its consequences for societies and cultures in Spain as well as Spanish America, especially Mexico. I knew that the Caribbean, the first site of European activity in the Americas, played an important role in that story, yet paradoxically it didn’t seem to receive much attention from historians, at least in the U.S. When I finally decided to focus my research on the period immediately following Columbus’s first voyages, I entered into a complex and dynamic world of danger, ambition, exploitation, and novelty. I hope to open that world to others in my book.

Ida's book list on what happened after Columbus got to the Caribbean

Ida Altman Why did Ida love this book?

Although not exclusively focused on the Caribbean, the articles in this volume illuminate the long and complex history of sugar production in the early modern Iberian world, beginning with the Iberian Peninsula itself and expanding into the Atlantic island groups and across the Atlantic to the Caribbean and Brazil. The last article focuses on sugar production in seventeenth-century Barbados, underscoring that a long history of sugar cultivation preceded the better-known establishment of sugar production in the English and French islands. Here the reader will learn how sixteenth-century Europeans eagerly incorporated sugar into their cuisines and diet, at times consuming prodigious quantities. Together these articles present a fascinating and often surprising early history of a commodity that has had a huge impact on the world.

By Stuart B. Schwartz (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tropical Babylons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The idea that sugar, plantations, slavery, and capitalism were all present at the birth of the Atlantic world has long dominated scholarly thinking. In nine original essays by a multinational group of top scholars, Tropical Babylons re-evaluates this so-called ""sugar revolution,"" presenting a revisionist examination of the origins of society and economy in the Atlantic world. Focusing on areas colonized by Spain and Portugal, these essays show that despite reliance on common knowledge and technology, there were considerable variations in the way sugar was produced. With studies of Iberia, Madeira and the Canary Islands, Hispaniola, Cuba, Brazil, and Barbados, this…


Book cover of From Columbus to Castro: The History of the Caribbean 1492-1969

Scott B. Macdonald Author Of The New Cold War, China, and the Caribbean: Economic Statecraft, China and Strategic Realignments

From my list on beach reads in an international relations hurricane.

Why am I passionate about this?

My expertise in Caribbean and Chinese affairs derives from having an interest in the two regions since college, which was then pursued through a MA in Asian Studies from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies and Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Connecticut. On the employment front, I worked for 3 regional banks (as an international economist), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Credit Suisse, Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, KWR International, and Aladdin Capital Management (as head of Credit and Economics Research) and Mitsubishi Corporation. Since I left Mitsubishi I returned to my two favorite interests, Asia and the Caribbean. 

Scott's book list on beach reads in an international relations hurricane

Scott B. Macdonald Why did Scott love this book?

This is one of the seminal books in Caribbean history, by one of the region’s foremost historians and long-time Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Eric Williams. For me, the book was a wonderful introduction to Caribbean history as it opened up doors to peoples and places that had been neglected during much of my education in the United States. The chapters concerning colonial plantation agriculture, its dependence on the enslavement of Africans, and the geopolitics around King Sugar are memorable.

By Eric Williams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked From Columbus to Castro as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first of its kind, From Columbus to Castro is a definitive work about a profoundly important but neglected and misrepresented area of the world. Quite simply it's about millions of people scattered across an arc of islands -- Jamaica, Haiti, Barbados, Antigua, Martinique, Trinidad, among others -- separated by the languages and cultures of their colonizers, but joined together, nevertheless, by a common heritage.


Book cover of The Traveller's Tree: A Journey Through the Caribbean Islands

Raymond A. Saraceni Author Of Off the Beach in the Caribbean: Travels in the Little Leeward Islands

From my list on accompaning your Caribbean Sojourn.

Why am I passionate about this?

Over the years, I have had the good fortune to visit various ports of call through the eastern Caribbean and have been struck repeatedly not by the sameness but by the diversity of things and people. I also began to lament that those who visit the islands are encouraged to do so as vacationers rather than as travelers – to borrow a binary from the great Paul Bowles. Encountering a place with any sense of generosity necessitates reading about it, and while the titles I have included here represent some of those that I have found most rewarding and exciting, the full list is as long and varied as the archipelago of islands itself.           

Raymond's book list on accompaning your Caribbean Sojourn

Raymond A. Saraceni Why did Raymond love this book?

Patrick Leigh Fermor is without question one of the greatest travel writers in the pantheon, and this early work clarifies that reputation. Providing a glimpse of the West Indies in the years immediately following the Second World War, Fermor’s book is rich in description, profound in understanding, exuberant in its overall moods and textures. The author is evocative without being effusive, providing a rich sense of cultural and historical context – island after island – without overloading the reader with a mere density of fact. As is not always the case with travel writers (and even very good travel writers), Fermor himself is never the subject. We see things alongside him, as he sees them – grateful at every moment for his learned, humane, and passionate sensibility. This is one of the first travel books about the West Indies to take the islands and their inhabitants seriously.

By Patrick Leigh Fermor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Traveller's Tree as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the late 1940s Patrick Leigh Fermor, now widely regarded as one of the twentieth century’s greatest travel writers, set out to explore the then relatively little-visited islands of the Caribbean. Rather than a comprehensive political or historical study of the region, The Traveller’s Tree, Leigh Fermor’s first book, gives us his own vivid, idiosyncratic impressions of Guadeloupe, Martinique, Dominica, Barbados, Trinidad, and Haiti, among other islands. Here we watch Leigh Fermor walk the dusty roads of the countryside and the broad avenues of former colonial capitals, equally at home among the peasant and the elite, the laborer and the…


Book cover of Conquistadora

Thomas Bardenwerper Author Of Mona Passage

From my list on set in the Caribbean.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since traveling across Cuba as a teenager in 2006, I’ve been fascinated by the Caribbean and Latin America. That trip inspired me to learn Spanish, study abroad in Mexico, and write a college honors thesis at Harvard about the Batista and Trujillo regimes in Cuba and the Dominican Republic respectively. Upon graduation, I merged this interest with my desire to serve my country by joining the Coast Guard – the military branch most involved in the Western Hemisphere. This proved to be a wise decision, as the two years I spent stationed in Puerto Rico and patrolling the Caribbean were two of the most enjoyable years of my life.

Thomas' book list on set in the Caribbean

Thomas Bardenwerper Why did Thomas love this book?

Esmeralda Santiago portrays the 19th-century journey of Ana Cubillas from imperial Spain to colonial outpost Puerto Rico. Cubillas has a complicated relationship with her family, slavery, and Puerto Rico, and the reader never knows quite what to think of her. Like Cubillas, Puerto Rico itself is complicated. I lived in San Juan for two years and grew to love the island, but I never felt like I quite understood it – any outsider who says they do is probably lying.

By Esmeralda Santiago,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Conquistadora as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As a young girl growing up in Spain, Ana Larragoity Cubillas is powerfully drawn to Puerto Rico by the diaries of an ancestor who traveled there with Ponce de Leon. And in handsome twin brothers Ramon and Inocente—both in love with Ana—she finds a way to get there. Marrying Ramon at the age of eighteen, she travels across the ocean to Hacienda los Gemelos, a remote sugar plantation the brothers have inherited. But soon the Civil War erupts in the United States, and Ana finds her livelihood, and perhaps even her life, threatened by the very people on whose backs…


Book cover of Captives of Conquest: Slavery in the Early Modern Spanish Caribbean

Tessa Murphy Author Of The Creole Archipelago: Race and Borders in the Colonial Caribbean

From my list on the Early Indigenous Caribbean.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of the early Americas, and while I often teach courses such as “The U.S. to 1865,” my real passion lies in the Caribbean. As the first site of encounter between the Indigenous inhabitants of the place we came to call the "Americas," Africans, and Europeans, this, to me, is where "American" history began, yet the history of the Caribbean—particularly in the era surrounding European arrival—remains relatively little known. As a Canadian teaching American history at a university in the U.S., I try to disrupt familiar historical narratives by showing my students that American history also unfolded beyond the borders of the modern nation-state.

Tessa's book list on the Early Indigenous Caribbean

Tessa Murphy Why did Tessa love this book?

This book illuminates a period that is all too often glossed over in early American history: the first few decades of Indigenous-European interaction in the Caribbean.

Stone uses archaeological evidence to painstakingly reconstruct the social and political dynamics of Indigenous societies in the larger islands of the Greater Antilles prior to the arrival of Columbus and then turns to colonial sources to show how these societies responded to European incursions.

She convincingly argues that the enslavement of Indigenous people was not just incidental but integral to Spanish exploration, conquest, and settlement of the Caribbean. By keeping Indigenous people at the center of her story, Stone shows the devastating impacts of this slave trade on the region’s original inhabitants.

By Erin Woodruff Stone,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Captives of Conquest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Captives of Conquest is one of the first books to examine the earliest indigenous slave trade in the Spanish Caribbean. Erin Woodruff Stone shows that the indigenous population of the region did not simply collapse from disease or warfare. Rather, upwards of 250,000 people were removed through slavery, a lucrative business sustained over centuries that formed the foundation of economic, legal, and religious policies in the Spanish colonies. The enslavement of and trade in indigenous peoples was central to the processes of conquest, as the search for new sources of Indian slaves propelled much of the early Spanish exploration into…


Book cover of Atlantic Africa and the Spanish Caribbean, 1570-1640

Juan José Ponce Vázquez Author Of Islanders and Empire: Smuggling and Political Defiance in Hispaniola, 1580–1690

From my list on the Spanish Caribbean in the early colonial period.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born and raised in Sevilla, Spain, a city with profound ties to Spain’s colonial past in the Americas. Since college I've been fascinated by colonial history. Being a little contrarian, while most Latin American colonial scholars I knew focused on Mexico and Peru (the richest Spanish colonies in the so-called “New World”) I decided to focus my attention on their polar opposite: less prosperous colonies (from the perspective of the crown anyway), island societies, and places that were relegated to the margins. I love learning about the men and women in these colonial societies and trying to tell their stories to the best of my abilities.

Juan's book list on the Spanish Caribbean in the early colonial period

Juan José Ponce Vázquez Why did Juan love this book?

A multiple award-winning book that has given new wings to the field of early Caribbean history. Wheat’s insightful book forces to reckon with the extraordinarily close links between the Spanish Caribbean and the African slave trade in which Portuguese merchants played a crucial role. Even though local and peninsular Spaniards ruled, Afrodescendant men and women did most of the labor, cultivated most of the land, defended the colonies against other European powers, and constituted an overwhelming majority of the population, both enslaved and free. The early Spanish colonization of the region started a pattern of profound African cultural influence in the Caribbean that endures until today.

By David Wheat,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Atlantic Africa and the Spanish Caribbean, 1570-1640 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work resituates the Spanish Caribbean as an extension of the Luso-African Atlantic world from the late sixteenth to the mid-seventeenth century, when the union of the Spanish and Portuguese crowns facilitated a surge in the transatlantic slave trade. After the catastrophic decline of Amerindian populations on the islands, two major African provenance zones, first Upper Guinea and then Angola, contributed forced migrant populations with distinct experiences to the Caribbean. They played a dynamic role in the social formation of early Spanish colonial society in the fortified port cities of Cartagena de Indias, Havana, Santo Domingo, and Panama City and…


Book cover of American Baroque: Pearls and the Nature of Empire, 1492-1700

Carla Gardina Pestana Author Of English Conquest of Jamaica: Oliver Cromwell's Bid for Empire

From my list on the early modern global Caribbean.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of the early English Atlantic who began studying New England but soon turned to the Atlantic more generally and the Caribbean in particular. All the aspects of 17th century Atlantic history that most intrigue me played out in the Caribbean. A fascinating and complicated place, the West Indies—although claimed by the Spanish as their exclusive purview—became diverse, witness to a variety of interactions. I’m particularly interested in works that allow us to see these changes in the period when the region was a global meeting place undergoing vast shifts. Much excellent scholarship explores the later era of sugar and slaves, of major imperial wars, of movements for independence and emancipation. What interests me most is the period before that, when the region was being transformed into a crucible of global transformation.

Carla's book list on the early modern global Caribbean

Carla Gardina Pestana Why did Carla love this book?

Molly Warsh’s American Baroque perhaps best captures my point about the Caribbean as a global space. The book follows pearls harvested off the coast of Venezuela from the beds that produced them, through the enslaved divers who harvested them, the imperial officials who taxed them, the merchants who traded them, all the way to the consumers who valued them. It is a commodity history—a sort of history that often features the Caribbean region prominently—while at the same time offering a rich evocation of the many cultural aspects of the pearl’s role. Laborers who secreted pearls on their person to gain some of the wealth they produced and artisans who created lavish objects featuring pearls are as important to this account as the wealthy and powerful who displayed them in portraits of this era. 

By Molly A. Warsh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked American Baroque as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Pearls have enthralled global consumers since antiquity, and the Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella explicitly charged Columbus with finding pearls, as well as gold and silver, when he sailed westward in 1492. American Baroque charts Spain's exploitation of Caribbean pearl fisheries to trace the genesis of its maritime empire. In the 1500s, licit and illicit trade in the jewel gave rise to global networks, connecting the Caribbean to the Indian Ocean to the pearl-producing regions of the Chesapeake and northern Europe.

Pearls-a unique source of wealth because of their renewable, fungible, and portable nature-defied easy categorization. Their value was highly…


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Interested in the Caribbean, Spain, and the West Indies?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the Caribbean, Spain, and the West Indies.

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