Caliban and the Yankees

Trinidad and the United States Occupation

By Harvey R. Neptune

288 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 10 illus., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5788-5
    Published: March 2007
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-6811-9
    Published: November 2009

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Awards & distinctions

A 2007 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

In a compelling story of the installation and operation of U.S. bases in the Caribbean colony of Trinidad during World War II, Harvey Neptune examines how the people of this British island contended with the colossal force of American empire-building at a critical time in the island's history.

The U.S. military occupation between 1941 and 1947 came at the same time that Trinidadian nationalist politics sought to project an image of a distinct, independent, and particularly un-British cultural landscape.

The American intervention, Neptune shows, contributed to a tempestuous scene as Trinidadians deliberately engaged Yankee personnel, paychecks, and practices flooding the island. He explores the military-based economy, relationships between U.S. servicemen and Trinidadian women, and the influence of American culture on local music (especially calypso), fashion, labor practices, and everyday racial politics.

Tracing the debates about change among ordinary and privileged Trinidadians, he argues that it was the poor, the women, and the youth who found the most utility in and moved most avidly to make something new out of the American presence.

Neptune also places this history of Trinidad's modern times into a wider Caribbean and Latin American perspective, highlighting how Caribbean peoples sometimes wield "America" and "American ways" as part of their localized struggles.

About the Author

Harvey R. Neptune is assistant professor of history at Temple University.
For more information about Harvey R. Neptune, visit the Author Page.

Reviews

"[A] detailed and perceptive account of the important cultural and political awakenings that Trinidad experienced in the 1930s and 1940s."--Journal of Latin American Studies

"Energetically employs the new perspectives that have influenced international relations scholarship in recent years."--Latin American Research Review

"Engaging. . . . Caliban and the Yankees should be read by a wide audience for its erudition, lively prose, and deft unearthing of the cultural complexities that can develop when U.S. foreign troops step on friendly foreign ground."--Journal of American History

"[A] delightful cultural history."--American Historical Review

"An important book in the international history of the Caribbean."-- Estudios Interdisciplanarios de America Latina y El Caribe

"A refreshing, original, and important work on a formative though largely forgotten episode in the history of two nations. . . . Enthusiastically recommended. . . . Essential."--Choice