Fred Olsen became interested in Caribbean archeology when he began spending winter vacations on Antigua in 1954, and his retirement three years later gave him ample time for his hobby. This readable book is a very personal account of his efforts to trace the origin of the people who inhabited the Antilles at European contact. He visited sites, and talked to all kinds of people in the Guianas, Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador, following out the distributions and uses of traits as diverse as manioc and ball courts. Sometimes he agrees with professional opinion; sometimes he comes to his own conclusions.

A specialist can point out omissions and tenuous associations. Irving Rouse mentions in his introduction the questionability of equating archeological complexes in Colombia and Ecuador dating prior to the Christian era with Arawakan speakers, who are most widely distributed in the Amazonian lowlands. Where and when the pottery and the language came together are among the many problems still unsolved. Attention should be called to another pitfall. Although Mr. Olsen sets a good example by seldom excavating except in collaboration with Rouse, other amateurs have been less careful to observe antiquities laws. This book demonstrates that armchair archeology can be fun. Not only is it legal, it offers the opportunity to recognize connections overlooked by experts and thus to contribute a page or chapter to the unwritten history of the Americas.