When Americans seek an escape from the worries and dilemmas of everyday life, the crystal blue waters and white sands of the Caribbean islands seem like the answer to a prayer. Yet this image of a tourist’s paradise hides a tumultuous history marked by strife and division over race, political power, and economic inequality. Olwyn Blouet explores the story of “the Caribbean” over the last 50 years, revealing it to be a region positioned at the heart of some the most prominent geopolitical issues of modern times.
Navigating a rich mélange of cultures and histories, Blouet unearths a complex narrative that is frequently overlooked in histories of the Americas. In stark contrast to widely-read guidebooks, this chronicle unflinchingly probes two strikingly different worlds in the Caribbean islands—those of the haves and the have-nots—created by the volatile mixture of colonial politics, racial segregation, and economic upheaval. The strategic political relations between Caribbean nations, Cuba in particular, and the world powers during the Cold War; the economic transformations instigated by tourism; and the modernizing efforts of Caribbean nations in order to meet the demands of a globalizing twenty-first century market are among the numerous issues explored by Blouet in her efforts to redress the historical record’s imbalance. The Contemporary Caribbean also explores the proud histories of the region's many nations in sports such as cricket and baseball, as well as their famed cuisines, and the uneasy balance today between local traditions and the vestiges of colonial influence.