A well-researched, illuminating interpretation of Trinidad and Tobago’s formative crisis.

Tobago: The Union with Trinidad 1889–1899


In this intelligent history, Nimblett analyzes the troubled but ultimately successful union of two Caribbean peoples.

The 1889 annexation of Tobago, a small island off the coast of Venezuela, to its much larger neighbor Trinidad is still a subject of controversy. The author, a journalist and native of Trinidad and Tobago, seeks to correct misconceptions by undertaking a careful reading of the historical record. On the surface, Nimblett tells a prosaic story of cost-cutting by the British Empire, which ruled both islands as colonies; Colonial Office functionaries advocating for the merger complained of the expense of maintaining a separate administration for Tobago’s 18,000 people. After the annexation, Tobago’s insistence on fiscal independence led to disaster when the island lost most of its customs revenue on items imported from Trinidad. Tobago petitioned the Colonial Office to rescind the union, but the British government instead abolished Tobago’s separate tax, budget and treasury systems. Nimblett gets at deeper issues when he writes of how, in the 19th century, the island gradually lost its status as a self-governing colony. He details the class struggle behind Tobago’s constitutional wrangles, as Tobago’s legislature, representing a tiny, propertied minority, stymied reform initiatives to stop the exploitation of disenfranchised black workers. Nimblett’s lucid but sometimes repetitive narrative presents a wealth of documentary evidence and adds context with accounts of the West Indies’ legacy of slavery and racism and the economic effects of the collapse of Tobago’s sugar industry. In a challenge to other historians, Nimblett makes a compelling case that Tobago’s annexation helped alleviate many of its problems by sparking investment, land reform and agricultural diversification. His thought-provoking take will influence the ongoing debate over the island nation’s past—and its future.

A well-researched, illuminating interpretation of Trinidad and Tobago’s formative crisis.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2012

ISBN: 978-1477234495

Page Count: 374

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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