Perkins has brought up to date (1965) the excellent little survey which he wrote about twenty years ago. He has kept at least a third of the original material, but instead of simply tacking on new sections dealing with the postwar Caribbean, he has eliminated or greatly condensed the part of the older edition which covered the Good Neighbor period. The chapters on the geographical background and the social structure of the area are relatively little changed, as is the account of early United States-Caribbean relations. Naturally the sections on politics and recent diplomatic relations had to be completely overhauled. Perkins’ treatment of economic problems is more sophisticated in this edition, and there is a new, balanced account of the influence of the United Fruit Company. He has sharpened the focus of many generalizations in the original edition and introduced many details and statistics—occasionally too many—into the text, partly by eliminating some tables.
The author’s attitude toward Caribbean problems remains much the same as before: cautious optimism. However, he is more disapproving about the role of the army in Caribbean politics and, of course, more alert to the role of Communism. (In the earlier edition the only index entry on the subject was “Communism, aversion to in Caribbean countries.”) His handling of Castro is curiously inconclusive, for in the chapter on Caribbean politics he defers consideration of the Cuban leader until later and treats him in detail only as a force in United States-Caribbean relations. Possibly the editors of the series contemplate a separate volume on Cuba. This might be a good idea, but Fidel also belongs in any volume dealing with the broader area. To discuss the Caribbean without him would be like trying to produce Hamlet without Hamlet. (Originally reviewed in May 1948.)