Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 291
James Michener covered a longer span of time in THE COVENANT and perhaps even a larger geographic area--if one discounts the ocean--but nowhere will the devoted fan of his work find a more diverse and intriguing cast of characters than in CARIBBEAN, the newest and by all accounts, the last novel from this prolific fictional chronicler.
CARIBBEAN is essentially a series of short stories with a few select characters, covering some six hundred years of Caribbean history. Blending together fact and fiction in the inimitable Michener fashion, CARIBBEAN moves rapidly from consideration of the conflict between the peaceful Arawaks and the bloodthirsty Caribs to contemporary Miami and the Cuban community.
In the course of this tour the reader is introduced to the likes of Sir Francis Drake, Henry Morgan, Horatio Nelson, the bloodthirsty Victor Hugues, the heroic Toussaint L’Ouverture, Thomas Carlyle, and Fidel Castro. Intermixed with these historical figures are fictional characters, representing the countless men and women who created modern nations out of paradise: naval officers and generals from England, Spain, and France; sugar planters, colonial officials, slaves, their descendants, and the various ethnic groups which contribute to the unique genetic mixture of the area. Along the way, Michener suggests solutions to the problems which afflict the individual islands and the region as a whole. Admittedly, some might find his recommendations a bit simplistic, but the fact remains very often the practical solution to a complex problem may be the most simple alternative available. Above all, as is his wont, Michener describes people: real and imaginary, heroes and villains, lovers and haters, the faithful and the traitorous--men and women whose decisions seldom have the desired consequences, even though they possess a serene belief that they are in the right.