This gathering of articles by West Indians is concerned with the theme of how an individual from that area might forge an identity that transcends a simple rejection of the colonial past (which some argue produces a new colonial type, one with black skin). Of the contributors, only the internationally famed writer Derek Walcott gives convincing testimony to how it is done and his is a paean to personal liberation.

Walcott’s piece, “The Muse of History,” is a threnody of love for all the forces on one’s life that lead to personal rebirth, even when those forces include enslavement. Not that he espouses a return to “Massa Day,” rather he argues that the historical experience must become part of the escape from history, and that this may be done through performance, through concelebration.

The distinguished poet and social historian Edward Brathwaite contributes another personal narrative on how he came to his sense of personal and social identity as a West Indian in the less rhapsodic short piece “Timehri.” Gordon Rohlehr, the young and talented literary critic, submits that his generation will transcend the “Massa’s Day Is Dead” approach by killing off the mode of thought of its primary proponent, Dr. Eric Williams, Prime Minister of Trinidad. Rohlehr’s “History as Absurdity” is primarily a critique of From Columbus to Castro, though most of Williams’s other works are discussed with special focus on inconsistency of argument.

There are a number of less fully developed arguments: Merle Miller’s rejection of male domination and recognition of the historical role of women in Afro-American life; Timothy O. McCartney on the history and applicability of Black Power in the Bahamas; Eva Hodgson on social history and blackness in Bermuda; and Locksley Edmonson’s survey of the inner-power possibilities of Black Power through alliances with other members of the Third World. Finally, there are two short and incisive discussions: Clive Y. Thomas’s argument for nationalization of businesses; and John Stewart’s affecting discussion of changes in Trinidadian socio-religious practices through a description of the daily life of a village pastor. This piece, along with those of Walcott, Brathwaite, and Rohlehr are almost worth the price of the book.