Paul Johnson

Island Hotspots

Red Heat: Conspiracy, Murder and the Cold War in the Caribbean

By

Simon & Schuster 320pp £25 order from our bookshop

There is a famous passage in Jane Austen’s Persuasion in which Admiral Croft’s wife makes an important geographical point about the Caribbean area: ‘We do not call Bermuda or Bahama, you know, the West Indies.’ At this, ‘Mrs Musgrove had not a word to say in dissent; she could not accuse herself of having ever called them anything in the whole course of her life.’ Austen’s joke on the ignorance of the English about the Caribbean holds good today, though some have a confused notion of tropical islands derived from cruises. Americans used to know rather better, for Cuba was a holiday resort for millions of Americans of quite modest incomes. Since Castro took it over in 1959 they have shunned it, and now the Caribbean is just a blur for them too.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Start your week with a dose of Russian Revolutionary zeal. Donald Rayfield reviews Tobie Mathew's 'Greetings From t… ,
    • A treat from the LR Archive: exactly 20 years ago, Malcolm Bradbury reviewed John Updike's 'Bech at Bay' ,
    • ‘When bullets come close, the noise they make as they go past changes from a zing to a crack’ John Lanchester's dy… ,
    • Man with a Bloody Paintbrush: Robin Simon on Lucian Freud ,
    • Jane Ridley reviews The Diaries of Kenneth Rose (ed. D R Thorpe) ,
    • ‘Look,’ says Trump. ‘The fact is I’m only human.’ On the evidence of this book that point is debatable. From the A… ,
    • From our December/January issue - here's John Banville's review of Colm Tóibín on the fathers of Wilde, Yeats and J… ,