“History as literature, meticulously researched and masterfully written.” –The New York Times Book Review
“A formidable achievement. . . . No historian has attempted to weave together in so subtle a manner the threads of the most complex and turbulent period of Caribbean history.” –The Times Literary Supplement
“Brilliant. . . . Startling.” –New Statesman
“A remarkable book. . . . Intelligent, humane, brilliantly written.” –Book World
From the Inside Flap
of Trinidad begins with a delusion: the belief that somewhere nearby on the South American mainland lay El Dorado, the mythical kingdom of gold. In this extraordinary and often gripping book, V. S. Naipaulhimself a native of Trinidadshows how that delusion drew a small island into the vortex of world events, making it the object of Spanish and English colonial designs and a mecca for treasure-seekers, slave-traders, and revolutionaries.
Amid massacres and poisonings, plunder and multinational intrigue, two themes emerge: the grinding down of the Aborigines during the long rivalries of the El Dorado quest and, two hundred years later, the man-made horror of slavery. An accumulation of casual, awful detail takes us as close as we can get to day-to-day life in the slave colony, where, in spite of various titles of nobility, only an opportunistic, near-lawless community exists, always fearful of slave suicide or poison, of African sorcery and revolt. Naipaul tells this labyrinth