Instead of approaching the history of Puerto Rico from the habitual narrative of the failed attempts to create an independent state, this essay reviews five very different books which help give an alternative view of the island's history: Arturo Morales Carrión's Puerto Rico and the Non-Hispanic Caribbean, the reviewer's own Puerto Rico 1898: The War After the War, Luis Ferrao's Pedro Albizu Campos y el Nacionalismo Puertorriqueño, Carlos Pabón's La nación postmortem, and Gervasio Luis García's Historia Bajo Sospecha. A resilient society and an absent state mark the five centuries that have elapsed since Spanish colonization. The failure of the state to encompass all its territory induced the development of strong solidarities which compensated the state's inability to defend and serve the islanders. As a result a strong watchful state is not desired, and this mentality may help explain why neither independence nor statehood have managed to gain sufficient adepts.

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