John H. Chambers with Maria G. Figueroa
published 2014 • 5" x 9" • 320 pages • full-color photos • maps
ISBN 9781566569156 • paperback • $25.00
A lively, panoramic survey of the cultural, historical, and geographic aspects of la isla del encanto (the island of enchantment)
This reader-friendly, illustrated history of Puerto Rico tells the story of the only Spanish country in the Americas that never gained its independence. It describes the 200 million year-old geology and geography and the approximately 5,000 years of human history.
The native peoples from Florida and/or South America evolved into the Tainos. In 1508, attracted by gold, Spain began colonization (bringing African slaves). During 390 years of royal and Catholic rule the three races blended, the Tainos drastically declined, and French, English, and Dutch tried to capture Puerto Rico—and slowly, San Juan’s spectacular protective castles, walls, and historic buildings were constructed. When gold was worked out, for 200 years the isolated population struggled to exist with crops, cattle, and limited trade. When in the 1700s and 1800s Spain again took an economic interest in the island agriculture flourished, with increasing trade to Europe and USA. Population expanded rapidly, national sentiment grew, and native-born Puerto Ricans strove for independence.
In 1898 the USA captured the country and made it America’s Caribbean bulwark. The US-dominated economy changed from agriculture to manufacturing, while hundreds of thousands of struggling people immigrated to the United States. Made US citizens in 1917, Puerto Ricans were very slowly granted more self-government. They sought a permanent political status acceptable to all Puerto Ricans, and to US Congress—which still holds plenary powers. Nowadays, only a small percentage of the island’s population are in favor of independence; the majority supporting about evenly the current semi-autonomous Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (established 1952), and becoming a US state.
Sidebars, island tidbits, literary extracts, cultural highlights (including cuisine and science), and must-see sights complement the historical overview and showcase all that this beautiful island has to offer.
This volume includes:
• A lively, comprehensive account of the island’s past and present history
• Historical maps
• Full-color and b&w then and now photographs
• Famous sons & daughters
• Interesting state tidbits
• Literary extracts
• Must-see sites
• Visitor resources
• Art & culture
• Select bibliography
John H. Chambers was born in Queensland. He holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University and most recently was a visiting professor at City University of New York. He taught history and philosophy at universities in USA, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand. This is his ninth book. His books Hawaii (On-the-Road History), A Traveller's History of Australia, and A Traveller's History of New Zealand are also published by Interlink. He lived in Puerto Rico for many years with his wife, Maria G. Figueroa.
Maria G. Figueroa, a native Puerto Rican, has worked with Dr. Chambers on several of his books. A curriculum and drama specialist, she holds B.A., M.F.A., M.A. and Ed.M. degrees, the latter two from Columbia University.”
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