100 books like Hispaniola

By Samuel M. Wilson,

Here are 100 books that Hispaniola fans have personally recommended if you like Hispaniola. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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

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?

The historical evidence for the first 50 years of Spanish colonization (and beyond) is fragmentary and difficult, but Altman’s book is a feat of readability and thoroughness. If you want to learn the contours of early Spanish colonial society, this is probably the most comprehensive look at the topic we have had for many years.

By Ida Altman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Life and Society in the Early Spanish Caribbean as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The half century of European activity in the Caribbean that followed Columbus's first voyages brought enormous demographic, economic, and social change to the region as Europeans, Indigenous people, and Africans whom Spaniards imported to provide skilled and unskilled labor came into extended contact for the first time. In Life and Society in the Early Spanish Caribbean, Ida Altman examines the interactions of these diverse groups and individuals and the transformation of the islands of the Greater Antilles (Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Jamaica). She addresses the impact of disease and ongoing conflict; the Spanish monarchy's efforts to establish a functioning…


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

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?

After Columbus Bartolomé de Las Casas probably was the most famous individual in the history of the early Spanish Caribbean. A man of great energy and determination, he wrote lengthy histories of the Caribbean and neighboring mainland as well as this much shorter, highly polemical one. He portrayed the horrors and abuses that the islands’ Indigenous peoples suffered at the hands of Spaniards and was instrumental in persuading the Spanish crown of the necessity of reforms that would offer Indians some protections from the extremes of exploitation. While he might have exaggerated the extent of Spanish cruelty, much of what he recorded can be corroborated. The writings of Las Casas are essential to understanding the Caribbean after Columbus.

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

Why should I read it?

1 author picked An Account, Much Abbreviated, of the Destruction of the Indies With Related Texts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fifty years after the arrival of Columbus, at the height of Spain's conquest of the West Indies, Spanish bishop and colonist BartolomA (c) de Las Casas dedicated his BrevA sima RelaciA(3)n de la DestruiciA(3)n de las Indias to Philip II of Spain. An impassioned plea on behalf of the native peoples of the West Indies, the BrevA sima RelaciA(3)n catalogues in horrific detail atrocities it attributes to the king's colonists in the New World. The result is a withering indictment of the conquerors that has cast a 500-year shadow over the subsequent history of that world and the European colonization…


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 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 Havana and the Atlantic in the Sixteenth Century

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?

Just like the United States has been fixated in Cuba since its creation as a nation, American historians have obsessed with the history of Cuba for decades, but most have focused on the 20th century, or gone back as far as the 18th century. Alejandro de la Fuente and his collaborators take the reader back to the first century of the Spanish colonization of the island and describes the transformation of Havana from a sleepy port town in the northwest of the island into one of the most important ports in the Spanish empire and the Atlantic world. The book combines great narrative history with abundant tables and graphs about trade, naval traffic, and urban expansion.

By Alejandro de la Fuente,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Havana and the Atlantic in the Sixteenth Century as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Havana in the 1550s was a small coastal village with a very limited population that was vulnerable to attack. By 1610, however, under Spanish rule it had become one of the best-fortified port cities in the world and an Atlantic center of shipping, commerce, and shipbuilding. Using all available local Cuban sources, including parish registries and notary, town council, and treasury records, Alejandro de la Fuente provides the first examination of the transformation of Havana into a vibrant Atlantic port city and the fastest-growing urban center in the Americas in the late sixteenth century.De la Fuente argues that Havana was…


Book cover of Surviving Spanish Conquest: Indian Fight, Flight, and Cultural Transformation in Hispaniola and Puerto Rico

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?

Anderson-Córdova asks readers to question many things they may have been told about the Indigenous Caribbean, including the very labels used to describe the region’s inhabitants.

The supposed dichotomy between the Taínos of the Greater Antilles and the Caribs of the Lesser Antilles obscures significant exchange and movement between islands both before and after European arrival, she argues, while the very term “Taíno” is an ahistorical one, popularized by scholars in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Drawing on archeological and historical sources, Anderson-Córdova provides a wealth of information about the multiethnic nature of the Indigenous Caribbean before and long after colonization.

By Karen F. Anderson-Cordova,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Surviving Spanish Conquest reveals the transformation that occurred in Indian communities during the Spanish conquest of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico from 1492 to 1550.

In Surviving Spanish Conquest: Indian Fight, Flight, and Cultural Transformation in Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, Karen F. Anderson-Cordova draws on archaeological, historical, and ethnohistorical sources to elucidate the impacts of sixteenth-century Spanish conquest and colonization on indigenous peoples in the Greater Antilles. Moving beyond the conventional narratives of the quick demise of the native populations because of forced labor and the spread of Old World diseases, this book shows the complexity of the initial exchange between…


Book cover of San Domingo: The Medicine Hat Stallion

Emily Hayse Author Of These War-Torn Hands

From my list on capturing the poignant beauty of the American West.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since I can remember, I've been captivated by the American West. Was it that cowboys were brave and if you had integrity it was most certainly put to the test? Was it that everyone rode horses and I was a horse crazy girl? Whatever it was that struck me, it stayed. I have treasured the West ever since, through books, film, art, and most recently, a fantasy western trilogy of my own. 

Emily's book list on capturing the poignant beauty of the American West

Emily Hayse Why did Emily love this book?

I read this book for the first time when I was probably nine or ten and I think this was one of the books that really started it all. It put words to what I felt about the West...the glory of the wide plains, the kind of guts it took to survive, the love of a boy and a horse, and the lengths they would go for each other. It's a perfectly wistful and beautiful western. 

By Marguerite Henry, Robert Lougheed (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked San Domingo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Synopsis coming soon.......


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the Caribbean, piracy, and Pirates?

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

The Caribbean Explore 193 books about the Caribbean
Piracy Explore 131 books about piracy
Pirates Explore 82 books about Pirates