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The Loss of El Dorado: A Colonial History

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  192 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
The history of Trinidad begins with a delusion: the belief that somewhere nearby on the South American mainland lay El Dorado, the mythical kingdom of gold. In this extraordinary and often gripping book, V. S. Naipaul–himself a native of Trinidad–shows how that delusion drew a small island into the vortex of world events, making it the object of Spanish and English colonia ...more
Paperback, 376 pages
Published March 16th 2003 by Vintage (first published 1969)
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Czarny Pies
Nov 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Colonial history in the Americas
Shelves: english-lit
This is an absolutely brilliant history of V.S. Naipaul's native Trinidad covering the period from the late 16th Century to the early nineteenth century. Growing up as an Asian Indian in a British Caribbean colony with a large Black population and a small American Indian population, Naipul has proved throughout his carreer to be a brilliant chronicler of the rules of the game that govern relations between racial communities in a colonial setting. His brilliant talent in this area makes the Loss ...more
Denis Farley
May 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Antigua native Fuzzy Samuel gave me this book around 1979, for a little background on his homeland. I read it and loved it but Wiki here tells it better than I do (only four stars 'cause even V.S. Naipaul thought he could have done better :))

Naipaul looks at the Spanish/British colonial rivalry in the Orinoco basin, drawing on contemporary sources written in Spanish and English[1:]. The book examines the obsessive quest for gold which was typical of the first Europeans to explore the region. In
Sajith Kumar
Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul is a Nobel Prize-winning author of Indian origin, who was born in Trinidad and Tobago. He is basically a novelist who has published more than thirty books of fiction as well as non-fiction in the genre of autobiography and history. Medieval Europeans believed in the existence of a city constructed of gold somewhere in South America. Fevered quests for locating the city obviously failed, resulting in considerable loss of life. As a corollary to the pursuit, Spani ...more
Sep 28, 2016 rated it it was ok
I was at the Atlantic Antic this weekend and while walking around looking for lunch I came across a stand that was selling bake and shark. Of course I had to have it. It had mango and tamarind chutney on top! While waiting for the fish to be fried up, I noticed that the Trinidad and Tobago flag was flying on the side of the stand. Which made me think, I should read The Loss of El Dorado, at long last. It's been sitting at home for ages. Naipaul would want me to get on this. And this bake and sha ...more
Sep 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
This history is an unflinching depiction of the horrors of colonialism and slavery, in a way that I'm tempted to describe as uncharacteristic of its author. That would be unfair of me, however, since Naipaul has never really been sentimental about colonialism even though he is cynical about attempts to overcome it.

We know from Paul Theroux and others that Naipaul was assisted in his research by his long-suffering wife Patricia Hale. He later took much of the material in this episodic history of
May 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Would that more fine novelists wrote histories. This is a gripping narrative, probing and pertinent. I read it decades ago, so I shall not belabor the reader with details, though I can say that a few quotations from Naipaul would make this review read better. I do recall being surprised that it was not fiction, since I'd read House for Mr Biswah, Miguel Street, Mystic Masseur and a couple others. He had not yet written all the journalism, like A Tour in the South, or Among the Believers, that ca ...more
Scott Gilbert
Aug 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
A highly detailed and dramatic history of Trinidad and Venezuela from the beginnings of European colonialism through the dynamics of the era of slavery, and finishing with the drab ending that abolition brought. Naipaul illuminates the horrors and every-day brutality of slave life but also shows the absurd convolutions denial of the same brought to this Caribbean society and frequently transmitted back to the colonial nations.
Carlos Rubens
Aug 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Remarkable way of bringing life to the documented history of colonial Trinidad, Venezuela and the dynamics of its rulers, rules and the absurdity of a system nurtured by slavery. Sir Naipaul had been immerse in a great deal of reading and research and revealed a complete new way of telling history that often appears as catching as fiction (but it's not). Awesome book!
Sriram Ravichandran
Feb 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
Found it difficult to follow Naipaul's style of retelling history. I thought it was too detailed than necessary at many places, elaborating on exchanges between participants that dont seem too important. Was more of Trinidad history than el-dorado expeditions.
Jul 29, 2011 added it
A early history of Trinidad with much greed, violence and hatred resulting in decapitations, dismemberments, poisonings, immolations and hangings with liberal doses of uncharged incarcerations in judicial hells.
Nov 07, 2010 marked it as to-read
really spooky... dense
Amina Ahmed
Mar 16, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: i-dumped-you
i would rather watch a cornflower blue sky outside my window and think of cheerful things than wring my hands at this book.
Kobe Bryant
Jun 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shockingly beautiful true story of Venezuela and Trinidad, expertly executed
Daniel Rowe
Jan 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Perhaps a little too much information. Becomes dry as the story goes on, but full of interesting stories and personalities. An area of the world I knew little about, and now, I know a little more.
Oct 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Nihilistic colonial history, just the thing t finish on a grey sunday morning
Carlo Mayer
Non iniziato
Michael Kubat
Feb 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Absolutely fascinating history that reads like a bestseller. It seems that every corner of the world contains enough secrets to fill a potboiler.
Sep 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Essential reading.
Susan K
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Jan 17, 2016
R.S. Ramdial
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Mar 26, 2011
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Saurabh Malhotra
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rated it it was ok
Jul 27, 2010
Michael Jannicelli
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Naipaul was born and raised in Trinidad, to which his grandfathers had emigrated from India as indentured servants. He is known for the wistfully comic early novels of Trinidad, the bleaker novels of a wider world remade by the passage of peoples, and the vigilant chronicles of his life and travels, all written in characteristic, widely admired, prose.

At 17, he won a Trinidad Government scholarshi
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