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SMITHSONIAN JOURNEYS

Gardens of the Caribbean

READING AND TRAVEL GUIDE

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Books for

Enrich your travels with reading! Here's a hand-picked list prepared for your journey in conjunction with the book experts at Longitude.

Essential Reading

Item EXCRB212. Buy these 5 items as a set for $96 including shipping, 15% off the retail price.
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Empire's Crossroads, A History of the Caribbean from Columbus to the Present Day

Empire's Crossroads, A History of the Caribbean from Columbus to the Present Day

by Carrie Gibson

  • HISTORY
  • 2015
  • PAPER
  • 480 PAGES

A scholarly, readable history of the entire Caribbean from Cuba to Haiti, Jamaica to Trinidad. Gibson begins in 1492 and ends in the 20th century, covering five centuries with panache. (CRB321, $20.00)

A Continent of Islands, Searching for the Caribbean Destiny

A Continent of Islands, Searching for the Caribbean Destiny

by Mark Kurlansky

  • CULTURAL PORTRAIT
  • 1992
  • PAPER
  • 324 PAGES

A wonderfully observed social history of the Caribbean by a far-ranging journalist and favorite author. Kurlansky has a knack for honing in on the small details that make the Caribbean culturally unique, offering frank insight on music, religion, healthcare and the influence of the United States. (CRB12, $17.95)

My Favorite Plant, Writers and Gardeners on the Plants They Love

My Favorite Plant, Writers and Gardeners on the Plants They Love

by Jamaica Kincaid

  • ANTHOLOGY
  • 1998
  • HARD COVER
  • 329 PAGES

An anthology of essays on plants and gardening from contemporary authors as well as luminaries of the past. This handsome, little book features selections by (among many others) D.H. Lawrence and William Carlos Williams. (GEN126, $20.00)

Eyewitness Guide Caribbean

Eyewitness Guide Caribbean

by Polly Thomas

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2014
  • PAPER
  • 520 PAGES

Another gem in the Eyewitness series, this superb guide -- packed with photographs, illustrations, and maps -- includes the the best places to dive, snorkel, sail and play golf. (CRB251, $30.00)

Caribbean Destination Map

Caribbean Destination Map

by National Geographic

  • 2011
  • MAP

A colorful map of the entire Caribbean basin from southern Florida to South America at a scale of 1:2,000,000. (CRB31, $16.95)

 
Caribbean by Cruise Ship

Caribbean by Cruise Ship


by Anne Vipond

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2014
  • PAPER
  • 352 PAGES

An excellent guide to the region with detailed port maps, suggested excursions, color photographs and a pull-out map of all the Caribbean. (CRB146, $19.95)

The Spice Necklace, My Adventures in Caribbean Cooking, Eating, and Island Life

The Spice Necklace, My Adventures in Caribbean Cooking, Eating, and Island Life


by Ann Vanderhoof

  • FOOD
  • 2010
  • PAPER
  • 448 PAGES

Vanderhoof (An Embarrassment of Mangoes) is back aboard her sailboat in the Caribbean in these latest encounters with the characters and cuisine of the islands. She pairs lively accounts with 71 recipes she learned along the way. (CRB260, $14.95)

A Small Place

A Small Place


by Jamaica Kincaid

  • CULTURAL PORTRAIT
  • 2000
  • PAPER
  • 81 PAGES
  • FAVORITE

Antigua-born Kincaid meditates on the politics, history and culture of the islands in these remarkable short essays. A useful antidote to the usual fun-in-the-sun approach of the local tourist office, the book shines a light on the poverty, corruption and startling beauty of the Caribbean. (CRB03, $13.00)

A Traveller's History of the Caribbean

A Traveller's History of the Caribbean


by James Ferguson

  • HISTORY
  • 2008
  • PAPER
  • 320 PAGES

A concise history of the Caribbean Islands, beginning with a description of their formation and geologic attributes, carrying through to the first civilizations in the region, and ending with the modern tourism boom. (CRB42, $14.95)

The First Salute, A View of the American Revolution

The First Salute, A View of the American Revolution


by Barbara Tuchman

  • HISTORY
  • 1989
  • PAPER
  • 368 PAGES

Pulitzer-prize winning author's analysis of the American Revolution, focusing on the European politics surrounding the war, and the conflicts between the British and Dutch navy. Much of the action takes place in the Caribbean, the author providing a fascinating account of the role of St. Eustatius (the "Golden Rock") in the American Revolution. (USA04, $18.00)

The Sugar Barons

The Sugar Barons


by Matthew Parker

  • HISTORY
  • 2012
  • PAPER
  • 384 PAGES

Parker interweaves the histories of the Caribbean, the Industrial Revolution and the British Empire with the human stories of visitors and slaves, overseers and soldiers and families whose fortunes rose and fell on the sugar of the West Indies. (CRB277, $20.00)

Under the Black Flag, The Romance and Reality of Life Among the Pirates

Under the Black Flag, The Romance and Reality of Life Among the Pirates


by David Cordingly

  • HISTORY
  • 2006
  • PAPER
  • 296 PAGES

Meet Blackbeard and Captain Kidd along with lesser-known rogues and brigands in this rip-roaring portrait of pirates of the Caribbean. (CRB35, $17.00)

Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton


by Ron Chernow

  • BIOGRAPHY/MEMOIR
  • 2005
  • PAPER
  • 818 PAGES

An engaging biography of the largely self-taught orphan from the Caribbean who rose to become George Washington's aide-de-camp and the first Treasury Secretary of the United States. (USE536, $20.00)

American Empress, The Life and Times of Marjorie Merriweather Post


by Nancy Rubin

  • BIOGRAPHY/MEMOIR
  • 2004
  • PAPER
  • 484 PAGES

A sweeping history of the dramatic life of heiress, business tycoon (she ran C.W. Post after her father's suicide), socialite and philanthropist Marjorie Merriweather Post (1887-1973), a fixture in social circles of the 1920s and 30s, whose husband E.F. Hutton gave her the yacht Sea Cloud. (USA427, $29.95)

A Caribbean Mystery

A Caribbean Mystery


by Agatha Christie

  • MYSTERY
  • 2011
  • PAPER
  • 216 PAGES

Miss Marple solves a series of mysterious deaths on the Caribbean island where she is vacationing in this Agatha Christie classic, originally published in 1964. (CRB207, $13.99)

At the Bottom of the River

At the Bottom of the River


by Jamaica Kincaid

  • LITERATURE
  • 2000
  • PAPER
  • 82 PAGES

Ten short stories capturing the essence of Jamaica Kincaid's childhood in Antigua. Originally published in the New Yorker, the collection evokes the rhythms of work and play in the Caribbean. (CRB19, $13.00)

Easy in the Islands, Stories

Easy in the Islands, Stories


by Bob Shacochis

  • LITERATURE
  • 2004
  • PAPER
  • 214 PAGES

A collection of short stories and one of the most evocative depictions of daily life on the islands. Shacochis's characters, from islanders to interlopers, ring true. His writing is a graceful tribute to the music, politics and cultural quirks of the Caribbean. (CRB78, $13.00)

Return to My Native Land

Return to My Native Land


by John Berger | Anna Bostock | Aime Cesaire

  • LITERATURE
  • 2014
  • PAPER
  • 220 PAGES

A long poem that became an anthem for the African diaspora and the Negritude movement. A lifelong resident of Martinique, Cesaire was one of the founders of the negritude movement in Francophone literature. (CRB320, $16.00)

Wide Sargasso Sea

Wide Sargasso Sea


by Jean Rhys

  • LITERATURE
  • 2016
  • PAPER
  • 176 PAGES

This classic novel by Dominican-born Jean Rhys, steamy both in its lush, tropical setting and in its plot, imagines the encounter between Edward Rochester and his mad wife -- a riveting prequel to Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. (CRB21, $14.95)

Wild Caribbean, The Hidden Wonders of the World's Most Famous Islands

Wild Caribbean, The Hidden Wonders of the World's Most Famous Islands


by Michael Bright

  • NATURAL HISTORY
  • 2007
  • PAPER
  • 224 PAGES

Nicely illustrated, this companion book to the BBC series on the natural history of the Caribbean includes an overview of the plants, animals and underwater life of the islands from Cuba to Trinidad and Tobago. (CRB206, $25.00)

Caribbean Birds

Caribbean Birds


by James Kavanaugh

  • FIELD GUIDE
  • 2003
  • PLASTIC CARD

A fold-up, laminated card featuring color drawings and short descriptions of commonly encountered Caribbean birds. (CRB235, $7.95)

Fishwatcher's Field Guide Caribbean

Fishwatcher's Field Guide Caribbean


by Idaz Greenberg

  • FIELD GUIDE
  • 2000
  • PLASTIC CARD

A convenient double-sided plastic card showing 75 reef fish of the Caribbean. (DIV11, $7.50)

Marine Invertebrates of Florida, the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Caribbean

Marine Invertebrates of Florida, the Bahamas, Bermuda and the Caribbean


by Idaz Greenberg

  • FIELD GUIDE
  • PLASTIC CARD

A convenient double-sided plastic card showing 61 invertebrates of the Caribbean. (DIV12, $7.50)

Reef Fish Identification Caribbean

Reef Fish Identification Caribbean


by Paul Humann

  • FIELD GUIDE
  • 2014
  • FLEXI-BOUND
  • 548 PAGES

This definitive guide for underwater enthusiasts features 670 stunning color photographs of all the fishes of the tropical Atlantic. Now in its fourth edition. (DIV03, $44.95)

Snorkeling Guide to Marine Life

Snorkeling Guide to Marine Life


by Paul Humann

  • FIELD GUIDE
  • 1995
  • PAPER
  • 80 PAGES

Humann's compact guide illustrates Caribbean fishes, corals, invertebrates and plants commonly encountered in shallower water. (DIV02, $14.95)

More Recommendations

Here are some other groups of books that might be of interest

Longitude provides recommended reading for travelers in partnership with the leading tour operators and travel programs for hundreds of destinations worldwide. We've got the classic, new and hard-to-find books and maps to help you get the most out of your adventures.