• Empire's Crossroads

  • A History of the Caribbean from Columbus to the Present Day
  • By: Carrie Gibson
  • Narrated by: Romy Nordlinger
  • Length: 17 hrs and 50 mins
  • 4.0 out of 5 stars (110 ratings)

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Empire's Crossroads

By: Carrie Gibson
Narrated by: Romy Nordlinger
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Publisher's Summary

Ever since Christopher Columbus stepped off the Santa Maria onto what is today San Salvador, in the Bahamas, and announced that he had arrived in the Orient, the Caribbean has been a stage for projected fantasies and competition between world powers. In Empire’s Crossroads, British American historian Carrie Gibson traces the story of this coveted area from the northern rim of South America up to Cuba, and from discovery through colonialism to today, offering a vivid, panoramic view of this complex region and its rich, important history. 

After that fateful landing in 1492, the British, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, and even the Swedes, Scots, and Germans sought their fortunes in the islands for the next two centuries. Some failed spectacularly: A poorly executed settlement in Panama led the Scots to lose their own independence to England. The Spaniards were the first to find prosperity, in Mexico but also along the islands. In Hispaniola, Cuba, and Puerto Rico, they built grandiose cathedrals and extracted shipfuls of gold and silver, which English, French, and Dutch pirates were happy to seize. But precious metals weren’t a sustainable export - the colonizers needed something that was, and they would need hordes of slaves to cultivate it. The Caribbean’s first cash crop, one indigenous to the New World, was tobacco, and it, along with sugar, spurred expensive new addictions back in Europe. Gibson argues that immaterial exports were just as important. No other region of the world has experienced such a vibrant mixing of cultures, religions, and peoples - Africans, Europeans, Asians, and Amerindians created amazingly dynamic Creole societies that complicated traditional ideas about class and race. By the end of the 18th century, 70,000 free blacks and mulattos lived in the British islands alone, and it was in the Caribbean that the world’s only successful slave revolt took place - sparking the meteoric rise of Napoleon’s black counterpart, Toussaint L’Ouverture, and the Haitian Revolution. The Caribbean island of St. Eustatius had been the first to recognize the United States as a nation, but the Americans were soon vying for their own imperial stronghold in the West Indies, attempting to control Cuba and backing influential corporations, most notably United Fruit. In the 20th century, most of the islands broke from the imperial traditions that had lorded over them for four centuries: this would be the explosive age of decolonization and “banana republics,” of racial riots, of Cold War politics and tourist crowds. 

At every step of her expansive story, Gibson wields fascinating detail to combat the myths that have romanticized this region as one of uniform white sand beaches where the palm trees always sway. Evocatively written and featuring a whole cast of cosmopolitan characters, Empire’s Crossroads reinterprets five centuries of history that have been underappreciated for far too long.

©2014 Carrie Gibson. Recorded by arrangement with Grove/Atlantic, Inc. (P)2014 Audible Inc.
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

"Romy Nordlinger's narration delivers a vivid history lesson.... Her tone never falls short of energetic.... Nordlinger's steady, upbeat pace helps carry the listener forward." ( AudioFile)

What listeners say about Empire's Crossroads

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    3 out of 5 stars

Careless production mars storytelling

I have to enjoy books by listening because of my work. I wanted to read this book in part because of the NY Times review and the recommendation of a friend. This was very disappointing. Ms. Nordlinger's narration was so carelessly executed. I found it difficult to follow this sweeping narrative. If she'd just observed punctuation, paragraphs, I might have been able to track the author's thesis. Ms. Nordlinger did not bother to learn the correct pronunciation of the many names and references in French, Spanish, Italian. Even some English words were mispronounced. This was an ordeal but I stuck it out because the work itself has merit.

5 people found this helpful

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Once over lightly

Breaks no new ground. Narrator was abysmal - sing-songy voice alternated with preachy voice was hard enough, but the repeated mispronunciations (ackee, Grenada, Dominica, etc.) was almost more than I could take.

5 people found this helpful

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One of the most obnoxious narrators on Audible

The narrator destroys this, no 2 ways about it. I simply don't understand why she was allowed to perform (ruin) the book this way. Every other, to every third sentence starts in a high falsetto for the first few words, then returns to a somewhat normal, albeit annoying cadence and tone. But then the falsetto returns, and again and again. That sing-songy delivery, accented squeaks and emphasis on random vowels, Disney-on-crack delivery wouldn't work for a children's book let alone this. She dips between a faux baby voice and then morphs into Minnie Mouse - back and forth, and it's like that The. Whole. Way. Through. The material of the book seems strong. I love the time period. Why then, would the author allow it to be smudged and ruined this way. There's just no way to justify it. This narrator is so ridiculous and for the life of me I can't understand why it was permitted in the first place. It's such a waste of a good book.

4 people found this helpful

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Informative but judgemental

This is a area that I am not familiar with, so I got a lot of new facts. The author got peachy in some parts. Which I don't care for.

2 people found this helpful

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Unbalanced

I find this book’s uncritically unamerican point of view frankly insulting. Trujillo, who was let’s be clear, a brutal dictator, is given the full treatment, as he deserves, but Castro is given a pass and given credit for creating the most egalitarian society in the world. This is a complete joke. Castro easily has as much blood on his hands if not more. Aside from content, the narrator is fairly bad, miss pronouncing things left and right. Big disappointment

2 people found this helpful

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Reader sounds like a cute little girl. Impossible to listen

The content is good but unfortunately I couldn’t stand the reader’s baby voice. I hope I can get a refund. I only got 10 minutes in. Get a sample!

1 person found this helpful

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Leftist claptrap instead of simply reporting.

Didn't get past the introduction. This is likely a textbook used in the halls of Berkeley.

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Very Interesting History. Terrible Narration

The author of the book wrote an excellent and compelling history of the Caribbean. The narrator ruined it by pronouncing EVERY non-English word incorrectly, and misunderstanding the intonation of the English language. I can’t believe this person was paid to narrate this book. I believe the book is worthy of re-recording with a better reader. The author’s work deserves to be well-presented.

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Very interesting, very long

Of course the subject is long, history of a big part of the world, but I would have preferred a more linear approach to the events covered. Overall very good and I enjoyed the narrators voice.

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Enlightening history worth the read

I'm from the West Indies and wanted to get a detail history of how things evolved over the centuries. This was good. Only issue, the narrator consistently mis-pronounced words in the way West Indians would. the emphasis was on the wrong letters and it became frustrating e.g. she'd say Gr"a"nada instead of Gr"e" nada, and a few others like that. Overall, the author did an outstanding job connecting so many pieces of island history in very educational and informative read. I'd recommend to any history buff.