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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
November 2023
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Book description

Kenneth Morgan's history of Jamaica is a social, economic, political, and cultural assessment of the island's most important periods and themes over the past millennium. This includes the island's development before 1500, with detailed material on the Taino society; the two centuries of slavery and its aftermath between 1660 and 1860; the continuance of colonialism between 1860 and 1945; the background to Jamaican independence between 1945 and 1960; and the evolution of Jamaica as an independent nation since the early 1960s. Throughout, Morgan discusses important themes such as race, slavery, empire, poverty, and colonialism, and the unbalanced social structure that existed for much of Jamaica's history – the small, overwhelmingly white elite overseeing and controlling the lives of black and brown people beneath them on the social scale. Ending with an assessment of the contemporary period, this work offers an authoritative, up-to-date history of Jamaica.


‘Jamaica punches above its weight in world history. It is a land of both tragedy - its brutal if hugely successful slave system - and triumph - enslaved resistance and emancipation and the making of a dynamic modern post-colonial society. Kenneth Morgan, a master of short-form history and a leading historian of Jamaica, surveys these tragedies and triumphs in a superb concise history. It is easily the best introduction to the history of this fascinating if complicated island. It is a magnificent addition to a wonderful book series.’

Trevor Burnard - Wilberforce Professor of Slavery and Emancipation at the University of Hull and author of Writing Early America: From Empire to Revolution

‘Concise histories of individual countries are challenging academic pursuits, as they aim to provide a comprehensive overview of the significant and fundamental elements of the respective territory’s history covering an extensive timespan usually in chronological fashion. Kenneth Morgan’s meticulously researched A Concise History of Jamaica, replete with numerous illustrations and covering over 2,600 years, is successful in this endeavour. Written in an accessible way which will benefit general readers, this book will serve as an invaluable introductory text to the island’s history from the period of the settlement by the Tainos, to the end of the second decade of the twenty-first century.’

Kathleen E. A. Monteith - The University of the West Indies, Mona

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