Cover

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Contents/Figures and Maps

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pp. vii-ix

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiii

During the completion of this book, I have incurred many debts, both personal and professional. I am grateful for the funding I received from several institutions, including the Lydia Cabrera Award Committee of the Conference on Latin American History; the Jay I. Kislak Foundation, Inc.;...

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ONE: Cursed by Nature

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pp. 1-20

Climate Change! Global Warming! El Niño and La Niña! These phrases, now part of our daily vocabulary, stir emotions and prompt reactions ranging from fear, to anger, to a feeling of helplessness in the face of impending disaster. For the past several years, the Caribbean, the southeastern United States, and the Gulf...

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TWO: Be Content with Things at Which Nature Almost Revolted

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pp. 21-59

The governor of Cartagena de Indias, Don Ignacio de Sola, was a conscientious bureaucrat. As the ranking official of the South American city that was the departure point for Jorge Juan and Antonio de Ulloa’s scientific expedition of 1735–46,...

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THREE: It Appeared as If the World Were Ending

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pp. 60-91

The end of the Seven Years’ War in Europe and in the Americas brought momentous political and territorial changes. Great Britain emerged as the winner, while her primary rival, France, was vanquished. Spain was dragged into the war because of her commitment to her French relatives and suffered a major...

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FOUR: The Violence Done to Our Interests

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pp. 92-122

At 9:00 a.m. on 10 October 1773, during the height of hurricane season, a meeting was convened onboard the fragata de correos (mail frigate) El Quirós. The participants contrasted sharply, from the grizzled, veteran captains of the coastal and...

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FIVE: In a Common Catastrophe All Men Should Be Brothers

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pp. 123-153

By the summer of 1776, the disenchantment so pronounced in the correspondence between Captain General de la Torre and treasury official Eligio de la Puente was symptomatic of the problems that would compel a new approach toward colonial affairs....

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SIX: The Tomb That Is the Almendares River

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pp. 154-192

In late June 1791, St. Augustine captain Don Antonio de Alcántara sailed into Havana harbor at the helm of his schooner, the Santa Catalina.1 A decade earlier, his arrival would have been unthinkable because his port of origin was in British hands, and...

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SEVEN: So Contrary to Sound Policy and Reason

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pp. 193-202

At the end of the eighteenth century, the warm climate anomaly subsided as suddenly as it began. By 1800, temperatures plunged to a level not experienced since the 1740s.1 Hurricanes continued to make landfall in Cuba, including one in...

APPENDIX 1. A Chronology of Alternating Periods of Drought and Hurricanes in Cuba and the Greater Caribbean, Juxtaposed with Major Historical “Events,” 1749–1800

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pp. 203-206

APPENDIX 2. Sources for the Maps

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pp. 207-209

Notes

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pp. 211-273

Bibliography

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pp. 275-297

Index

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pp. 299-306