WhatColumbus started in 1492 was finished in 1898, when the red and gold flag waslowered at Havana to mark the end of four centuries of Spanish dominance in theCaribbean. For twoand a half centuries after the Pope divided the world between Spain and Portugal,the navies of Britain, France, Spainand occasionally the Netherlandsfought in the Caribbean. Most of the islandschanged hands at least once. Europe discoveredthe delights of coffee, tea and cocoa; sugar boomed; fortunes were made andlost; the slave trade flourished. But after the Napoleonic Wars prosperityreceded, the conscience of the world awoke and slavery was abolished, endingthe halcyon days of European colonialism in the Indies.A Familyof Islandsis full of fabulous people: Drake, Hawkins,Raleigh, Philip II of Spain,Elizabeth I; Henry Morgan, the pirate who was later knighted and made governorof Jamaica; Haiti's tragictrio: Toussaint L'Ouverture, Dessalines and Henri Christophe. It is full ofstories about witch doctors and obeah spells and the unspeakable abominations ofthe slave trade.With asure sense of the exciting, Alec Waugh has written a perceptive and entertainingaccount of the history and humanity of a vivid part of the world where life canbe as tranquil as a sunbeam or as tumultuous as a hurricane.
Alec Waugh, 1898-1981, was a British novelist born in London and educated at Sherborne Public School, Dorset. Waugh's first novel, The Loom of Youth (1917), is a semi-autobiographical account of public school life that caused some controversy at the time and led to his expulsion. Waugh was the only boy ever to be expelled from The Old Shirburnian Society.
Despite setting this record, Waugh went on to become the successful author of over 50 works, and lived in many exotic places throughout his life which later became the settings for some of his texts. He was also a noted wine connoisseur and campaigned to make the 'cocktail party' a regular feature of 1920s social life.