The Loss of El Dorado by V.S. Naipaul
A Colonial History (Vintage)

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The history of Trinidad begins with a delusion: the belief that somewhere nearby on the South American mainland lay El Dorado, the mythical kingdom of gold. In this extraordinary and often gripping book, V. S. Naipaul–himself a native of Trinidad–shows how that delusion drew a small island into the vortex of world events, making it the object of Spanish and English colonial designs and a mecca for treasure-seekers, slave-traders, and revolutionaries.

Amid massacres and poisonings, plunder and multinational intrigue, two themes emerge: the grinding down of the Aborigines during the long rivalries of the El Dorado quest and, two hundred years later, the man-made horror of slavery. An accumulation of casual, awful detail takes us as close as we can get to day-to-day life in the slave colony, where, in spite of various titles of nobility, only an opportunistic, near-lawless community exists, always fearful of slave suicide or poison, of African sorcery and revolt. Naipaul tells this labyrinthine story with assurance, withering irony, and lively sympathy. The result is historical writing at its highest level.
 

About V.S. Naipaul

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V. S. Naipaul was born in Trinidad in 1932. He went to England on a scholarship in 1950. After four years at Oxford he began to write, and since then he has followed no other profession. He is the author of more than twenty books of fiction and nonfiction and the recipient of numerous honors, including the Nobel Prize in 2001, the Booker Prize in 1971, and a knighthood for services to literature in 1990. He lives in Wiltshire, England.
 
Published March 16, 2011 by Vintage. 400 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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In the second part (with an inset on the intervening revolutions and the degraded slave society that was Trinidad) the chimera of El Dorado gives way to the brutality of (mal) administration by the colonists: the torture of a slave girl, Luisa Calderon, by British Governor Picton, who imposed a r...

Oct 02 2011 | Read Full Review of The Loss of El Dorado: A Colo...

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