Edward Seaga and the Challenges of Modern Jamaica
Title: Edward Seaga and the challenges of modern Jamaica
Author: Patrick E. Bryan
Reviewed by: Alfred Sangster
This scholarly work of some 370 pages is authored by Patrick Bryan, the Douglas Hall Professor of History at the University of the West Indies (UWI). It is published by the University Press.
Professor Bryan is eminently suited to write on the subject of this book, for his wide-ranging list of publications include Jamaica: The Aviation Story; The Jamaican People 1880-1902; and Inside Out and Outside In: Factors in the Creation of Contemporary Jamaica. They are all relevant to the topic and display a wide grasp of the politics and sociology of national development. For this is what the book is all about.
This book has some 20 chapters with extensive notes, references, bibliography and index. The author used primary sources, government records, interviews and secondary sources to paint a compelling portrait of a complex man, a contradictory mixture of idealism and pragmatism but, above all, a Jamaican nationalist who had a profound impact on Jamaican politics, tourism, culture and finance.
The text is very clear and, apart from the details on Seaga's involvement in modern Jamaica, gives important insights into the social, political and economic developments of the country. The book has a number of photographs, either from Seaga's collection or from The Gleaner archives, and the only disappointment in this area is the quality (in black and white only) of the photographs.
The author's introduction is particularly helpful, as it gives some important insights of the country and its development, and how Seaga fits into that context. In identifying the historical forces that shaped Jamaica's modern history, Bryan records how Seaga confronted these forces and the approach is balanced and neither adulatory nor apologetic.
It can well be said that many of Jamaica's institutions and features on the landscape were part of the vision and initiative of Seaga while he was a part of the government as parliamentarian, minister of government and, later, prime minister. Brian Meeks, professor of social and political change at UWI, in commenting on this facet of Seaga's contribution remarks: