Anderson, John L. The Night of the Silent Drums. Rome: Mapes Monde, 1992. John Anderson conducted exhaustive research into the 1733 slave rebellion on St. John  and brought what he learned to life in this story, told through the eyes of a Danish plantation doctor who was sympathetic with the Africans’ cause. Although fictional, the book is widely regarded as factual and accurate in its depiction of the events of 1733. The story was first published by Charles Scribner and Sons in 1975; the 1992 edition is beautifully illustrated with rare West Indian hand drawings and prints.
Andrew, John. The Hanging of Arthur Hodge. Philadelphia: Xlibris, 2000. This self-published thesis is a comprehensive account of the 1811 trial of Tortola  planter Arthur Hodge, who was hanged for the murder of one of his slaves. The event was an antislavery milestone in the Caribbean, and Andrew’s telling is both informative and entertaining.
Armstrong, Douglas. Creole Transformation from Slavery to Freedom: Historical Archaeology of the East End Community, St. John, Virgin Islands. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida, 2003. This academic work looks closely at the social transformation that took place at the end of slavery in the Caribbean, through a close examination of the St. John  east end community, which gained freedom 40 years before the 1848 emancipation in the Danish West Indies.
Bastian, Jeanette Allis. Owning Memory: How a Caribbean Community Lost Its Archives and Found Its History. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003. A former librarian and archivist in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Jeanette Bastian writes how the community was forced to develop its own history because the historical record was stored in Copenhagen and Washington, D.C., the seats of the two colonial powers.
Chernow, Ron. Alexander Hamilton. New York: Penguin Press, 2004. The newest biography of St. Croix’s most famous native son.
Cohen, Judah. Through the Sands of Time: A history of the Jewish community of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Waltham, Massachusetts: Brandeis University Press, 2004. This hefty work records the long and colorful history of St. Thomas ’s Jewish community, from its early roots in the 17th century to today.
Dookhan, Isaac. A History of the Virgin Islands of the United States. Jamaica: Canoe Press, 1994. First published in 1974, this was one of the first comprehensive histories of the U.S. Virgin Islands and remains a good introduction to the history of the islands. Dookhan, a Guyanese scholar, also wrote a history of the British Virgin Islands, but it is out of print and extremely difficult to find.
Gill, Patricia. Buddhoe. 1976. This self-published work is a fictional account of the 1848 slave uprising on St. Croix and its charismatic leader.
Lewisohn, Florence. St. Croix Under Seven Flags. Hollywood, Florida: The Dukane Press, 1970. Well written and engaging, this hefty history of St. Croix is one of the best-told stories of the island ever written. Although it is dated in some respects, students of history will still appreciate Lewisohn’s research and the numerous illustrations.
Low, Ruth Hull, and Rafael Valls. St. John Backtime: Eyewitness Accounts from 1718 to 1956. St. John: Eden Hill Press, 1985. This attractive, slim volume contains excerpts of first-hand accounts of St. John , from the earliest days of Danish settlement to the 1950s. While some were authored by native St. Johnians, most provide an outsider’s view of the island. It is also nicely illustrated.
O’Neal, Eugenia. From the Field to the Legislature: A History of Women in the Virgin Islands. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001. The former head of the local government’s women’s affairs desk wrote the first history of the women of the Virgin Islands  in 2001. This academic work provides a valuable and rare picture of women’s role in Virgin Islands society and history.
Benjamin, Guy H. Me and My Beloved Virgin. New York: Benjamin’s Publishing Co., 1981. St. Johnian Guy Benjamin tells of growing up in Coral Bay, St. John , in the early part of the 20th century.
Melchior Sr., Ariel. Thoughts Along the Way: Virgin Islands Reflections. St. Thomas: Ariel Melchior Inc., 1981. One of the founders of the Virgin Islands Daily News, Ariel Melchior has compiled some of the best editorials from that newspaper, from its founding in the 1930s until the 1970s. The result is a fascinating picture of the U.S. Virgin Islands’ struggle for self-government and a greater sense of identity.
Seaman, George. Ay-Ay: An Island Almanac. London: Macmillan Publishers, 1989. A St. Croix native, George Seaman grew up to be one of the island’s greatest fans. In this memoir he shares his delight in the annual rhythm of seasons, animals, weather, and human events. Woven in are descriptions of the Crucian lifestyle, history, and a boyhood on a quiet Caribbean island.
Svalesen, Leif, Selena A. Winsnes (translator), and Pat Shaw (translator). The Slave Ship Fredensborg. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000. Underwater archaeologist Leif Svalesen recounts the journey of the slave ship Fredensborg, which sank off the coast of Norway in 1768 on its way back from the Danish West Indies. The wreck was discovered in 1974, and Svalesen uses artifacts from the wreck, including the captain’s log, to tell the detailed story of its journey. The book forms the basis of an exhibit at the Fort Frederik Museum in Frederiksted, St. Croix.
Barlow, Virginia. The Nature of the Islands. Dunedin, Florida: Chris Doyle Publishing, 1993. Exhaustively researched, beautifully written, and charmingly illustrated, this is the best and most accessible guide to the nature of the islands. This book is well-organized and makes it easy to learn more about the plants, trees, and animals around the islands.
Lazell, James. Island: Fact and Theory in Nature. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005. Scientist James “Skip” Lazell has lived on and studied Guana Island for decades, and this work examines the remarkable diversity of life that exists on this tiny British Virgin Island. His analysis raises questions about prevailing scientific wisdom and evolves into an argument about the critical importance of biodiversity for life on earth.
Nellis, David W. Puerto Rico  and Virgin Islands Wildlife Viewing Guide. Helena, Montana: Falcon Publishing, 1999. This guide includes descriptions and information about the major natural attractions in the Virgin Islands  and Puerto Rico , as well as full-color photos of common birds, lizards, and other animals.
Raffaele, Herbert A., Cindy J. House, and John Wiessinger. Guide to the Birds of Puerto Rico  and the Virgin Islands. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1989. This is the definitive and best guide to the birds of the Virgin Islands, with detailed descriptions of 284 species, 273 of which are illustrated. In addition, there are practical tips for birders visiting the area.
Stokes, F. Joseph. Handguide to the Coral Reef Fishes of the Caribbean. New York: Lippencott and Cromwell, 1980. This illustrated guide includes descriptions of hundreds of reef fish, plus tips on how to identify mystery fish.
Thomas, Toni. Traditional Medicinal Plants of St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John. St. Thomas: University of the Virgin Islands, 1997. This informative field guide contains detailed information about traditional uses of hundreds of plants, including appropriate warnings. Its information is applicable to the British Virgin Islands, too.
Clarke, Clarice C., ed. Native Recipes. St. Thomas: University of the Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service, 1998. Produced by the University of the Virgin Islands, this is a good resource for traditional Virgin Islands  cooking and recipes, including dishes that are hard to find in other Caribbean cookbooks. There is also nutritional analysis of recipes.
Morgan, Jinx, and Jefferson Morgan. The Sugar Mill Caribbean Cookbook. Boston: The Harvard Common Press, 1996. Owners of the Sugar Mill Hotel and Restaurant on Tortola ’s north shore, Jinx and Jefferson Morgan offer an engaging Caribbean-inspired cookbook designed for cooks in North America and Europe, where Caribbean ingredients may be hard to find. Many of the recipes take an authentic Caribbean dish and add an elegant twist—often with superb results.
Gaffin, Pam. St. John: Feet, Fins, and Four-Wheel Drive. St. John: American Paradise Publishing, 2003. St. John resident Pan Gaffin provides practical and insightful advice about visiting St. John . The book outlines dozens of different driving tours, hikes, and “scrambles” on St. John.
Lensfesty, Thomas Jr., and Thomas Lensfesty. The Sailor’s Illustrated Dictionary. New York: Lyon’s Press, 2004. A reference book like no other. Entries include types of knots, clouds, equipment, and much more.
Scott, Nancy, and Simon Scott. The Cruising Guide to the Virgin Islands, 12th edition. Dunedin, Florida: Cruising Guide Publications, 2005. Veteran Virgin Islands sailors Nancy and Simon Scott publish the definitive guide for cruisers. A sturdy cover and spiral binding make it as practical as it is useful. It is updated annually.
Columbus, Christopher, and J. M. Cohen (editor). The Four Voyages. New York: Penguin Group, 1992. A new edition of Christopher Columbus’s own account of his “discovery” of the Caribbean, including passages describing his encounter with Kalinago people on St. Croix in 1493.
Ferguson, James. The Story of the Caribbean People. Kingston, Jamaica: Ian Randle Publishers, 1999. This textbook is a useful resource on Caribbean history, from pre-Columbians to the modern issues of drug trafficking, money laundering, and tourism. While the Virgin Islands  play only a minor role in Ferguson’s telling, his history provides valuable context for students of the islands.
Kincaid, Jamaica. A Small Place. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1988. The best portrait of the peculiar history and culture of a small Caribbean island ever written. Although based on Kincaid’s native Antigua, A Small Place paints a true picture of the entire region. Students of the region turn to this thin tome time and time again.
Las Casas, Bartolome de. A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies. New York: Penguin Group, 1992. The 1542 account of Spanish settlement of Puerto Rico  and Hispaniola by a Spanish priest was an urgent indictment of the treatment of the Igneri and Kalinago people that were found in the region. The description is still as powerful and troubling today as it was then.
Schrader Sr., Richard A. Maufe, Quelbe and t’ing. St. Croix: 2001. The reminiscences of St. Croix culture bearer, poet, and lecturer Richard Schrader. The stories depict in loving detail the ways of life of Crucians who came of age during the middle part of the 20th century. Richard Schrader is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry, literature, and history, all centered on the rich culture of his native St. Croix.
Brandt, Kathy. Dark Water Dive. New York: Penguin Group, 2004. An underwater murder mystery set in the British Virgin Islands. Homicide detective Hannah Sampson explores the (fictional) underbelly of paradise.
O’Neal, Eugenia. Just an Affair. Columbus, Missouri: Genesis Press, 2003. A classic romance set in the British Virgin Islands. Charter boat captain Caryl Walker falls for a smooth-talking music CEO but loses her memory before she can tell her former lover to take a hike.
Wouk, Herman. Don’t Stop the Carnival. Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1965. The Caribbean classic, it is the story of an optimistic hotel manager who sets up shop on what is widely believed to be Water Island  near St. Thomas  in the 1960s. Nothing goes as planned, but there is plenty of laughter and entertainment.
Handler, Mauricio. British Virgin Islands: A Photographic Portrait. Newton, Massachusetts: Twin Lights Publishers, 2001. Veteran Virgin Islands photographer Mauricio Handler captures the natural beauty of the British Virgin Islands in this high-gloss coffee table hardback, widely available at bookstores around the islands.
Simonson, Steve, and Peter Mullenburg. The U.S. Virgin Islands. Newton, Massachusetts: Twin Lights Publishers, 2003. Transports you right back to the beautiful islands with color photographs of St. Thomas , St. Croix, and St. John .
O’Dell, Scott. My Name Is Not Angelica New York: Yearling, 1989. A fictional account of the 1733 slave uprising on St. John , this book for young adults is great for grown-ups too. O’Dell’s other works include Newberry winner Island of the Blue Dolphins.
Penn-Moll, Verna. Johnny-Cake Country. Colchester, Essex: Mount Sage Press, 1990. In this slim fictional account of life in the British Virgin Islands, the former chief librarian of the British Virgin Islands describes the contradictions and choices intrinsic in “development.”
Vanterpool, Hugo F. Dusk to Dawn: Herald of the Virgin Islands. Kingston, Jamaica: Kingston Publishers Ltd., 1995. Adults and teens will enjoy this story of young Allan Todman.
White, Robb. Two on the Isle: A Memory of Marina Cay. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1985. This book was originally published in the 1960s as Our Virgin Island. In it Robb White remembers three years spent living on Marina Cay in the British Virgin Islands in the late 1930s. The story was later turned into a movie starring Sidney Poitier and John Cassavetes, shot in the islands.