Historical Dictionary of the Dominican Republic.

AuthorMorris, Jeffery T.
PositionLATIN AMERICA - Book review

Roorda, Eric Paul. Historical Dictionary of the Dominican Republic. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2016.

The Dominican Republic is a small country that rarely makes international headlines. Yet its history and culture are rich and complex. An understanding of how Dominicans have behaved toward one another and interacted with other nations--in particular with neighboring Haiti and the United States--is best begun through an introduction to the key events and personalities that have shaped Dominican history for more than 500 years. Eric Paul Roorda's Historical Dictionary of the Dominican Republic provides such an introduction. With both chronological and alphabetical organization of a wide range of historical information, Roorda's work is a useful survey of Dominican history for those new to the topic as well as a handy reference to seasoned Dominicanists needing to quickly look up people, places, or events.

Roorda is professor of history at Bellarmine University and co-director of the Munson Institute of American Maritime Studies. As a graduate student, he was a Fulbright scholar in the Dominican Republic, and has since made several extended visits to the country. Roorda has provided a number of contributions to Dominican historiography, including the award-winning The Dictator Next Door (Duke University Press, 1998), and he is a member of the Dominican Academy of History.

The Historical Dictionary of the Dominican Republic begins with a twenty-page chronology that orients the reader to the Dominican Republic's historical development. As a good chronology should, Roorda's leaves the reader with an appreciation for how the forces of personalities, power dynamics, and natural events shaped the way the Dominican Republic looks as a country and behaves as a nation today. Ranging from the pre-Columbian Taino period to mid-2015, the chronology captures the key events of Dominican history, as well as minor but interesting bits of trivia, such as when and where the Dominican national anthem was first publicly performed.

The chronology is followed by a twelve-page introduction that provides concise background on Dominican geography, demographics, and history. Then follows the main body of the book: the 300-plus page English alphabet A-Z historical dictionary. Following the dictionary are two appendices listing the Dominican heads of state and the country's thirty-one provinces, and a bibliography. In front of the chronology, after a list of...

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