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Rape of Paradise, Jan Carew, 1592320937 Rape of Paradise:
Christopher Columbus and the Birth of Racism in America

Author: Jan Carew

ISBN: 1592320937
Format: Paperback, 144pp
Publication Date: 2006
Publisher: Seaburn Publishing Group
List Price: $14.95
 

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Book Description
From the introduction:
On the morning of
October 12, 1492, a group of Tainos discovered Christopher Columbus and a landing party from his flagship the Santa Maria on a beach of Guanahani. Russell Thornton, author of American Indian Holocaust and Survival: A Population History Since 1492, calls it quite justifiably, "one of the more important demographic events in the history of the world." Thornton, whose book was published by the University of Oklahoma Press in 1987, estimates that "there were 72 million Native Peoples in the Western Hemisphere in 1492." He notes as well, "this number plummeted in following centuries to perhaps 4 to 4.5 million a population about 6% of its former size. That American Indians exist today and have shown recent population increases is a testament to perseverance over a dark period of history."

The history of that first voyage of "discovery" and the three others that Columbus made in his lifetime, has been glossed over for five centuries. Depicted mostly as one of romance and adventure, it is only recently that some of the hideous consequences of that "discovery" have been brought to light. The excuse proffered for Columbus is that he was a man of his time, but Hans Koning, in the final chapter of his work, Columbus: His Enterprise, contests this cavalier claim by suggesting that if this were so, then

It is to the greater glory of those men who were not "of their time": de las Casas, who in vain fought for half a century to save the Indians; Antonio de Montesinos, a [principled and fearless] Dominican friar . . . There were a few worldly men around too, who were not "of their time" . . . . Pedro Margarit, who sickened at the treatment of the Arawaks, who left Hispaniola and spoke against Columbus at Court. Alfonso de Albuquerque, who treated his subjects in Portuguese India as if they were people.

 

Jan Carew was born in British Guiana two years after World War I, but spent most of his life abroad. He has led a rich and varied life as writer, educator, philosopher and advisor to several nation states. After his initial education in British Guiana (now Guyana) in South America, he studied at universities in the U.S., Czechoslovakia, and France.

In London, he worked as a broadcaster and writer with the BBC and lectured in race relations at London University's Extra-mural department. He has also lived in Spain, Ghana, Canada and Mexico. He has taught at many universities in the U.S., including Princeton, Rutgers, George Mason, Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and the University of Louisville. He is Emeritus Professor of African American Studies from Northwestern University, where he taught from 1973 to 1987.

He has won a number of awards for his writing, including the 1964 Daily Mirror's (London) award for Best Play for "The Day of the Fox," and the Pushcart Prize (U.S.) for his essay "The Caribbean Writer and Exile." He is perhaps still best known for his first novel, Black Midas, and his memoir, Ghosts in Our Blood: With Malcolm X in Africa, England and the Caribbean. His most recent publication is a collection of children's stories, The Sisters and Manco's Stories.

Despite the implosion that collapsed the Second World upon itself (leaving the Third World with only one super power with which to contend), and the profound changes that an electronic, communication and service industry has brought about, Jan Carew remains an ardent Pan-Africanist. His motto as a writer and artist comes from one of his poems: "Art and Literature" he wrote, "are like lightening, for lightning illuminates, and is never timid."

Currently, Jan Carew is living in Louisville, Kentucky with his wife, Dr. Joy Gleason Carew, and concentrating on his memoirs.

 
 
 
 
 

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