Books on and About the Grenada Revolution
Many books have been written about the Grenada Revolution, the events leading to its collapse and the US invasion, which finally killed it off. They have normally followed a simplistic narrative in which there was a good side who were challenged and defeated by “hard liners” with the leadership of the Revolution.
In life things are more confused and nuanced. Below are a selection of recent publications, produced by some of the participants. These give their account of the momentous event of the Grenada Revolution. We urge you to read these and other accounts and come to your own view.
UNCHAINED: A Caribbean Woman’s Journey Through Invasion, Incarceration and Liberation
by Phyllis Coard
This is a gripping eyewitness account of one woman’s 16-year journey from capture to ultimate freedom. Jamaican by birth, a social worker by profession, Phyllis Coard was tasked in 1977 by the future leader of the Grenada Revolution (1979-1983), Maurice Bishop, to organise and build from scratch a National Women’s Organization (NWO) in Grenada. Led by a team of outstanding women, one-third of all Grenadian women joined well over one hundred organised groups of the NWO throughout the country.
Immediately following Grenada’s catastrophe of October 1983, the United States under Ronald Reagan implemented his plan hatched and rehearsed during the previous three years. His troops invaded Grenada, imprisoned its leaders, and installed a government of their choice. As Secretary For Women’s Affairs, Phyllis Coard was taken to a US warship at gun point. Thereafter kept in total isolation for most of seven years, beaten, tortured and publicly vilified through a US-inspired disinformation campaign, she was nevertheless able, by her fourteenth year of incarceration, to set up and run the first ever education programme for female prisoners in Grenada, and win, with them, significant reforms.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
It is said that you do not really know someone – including yourself – until one encounters a profound crisis in life. In Unchained…, fascinating insights into the real Phyllis Coard emerge as she faces the growing personal crises of her capture, isolation, psychological and physical torture, character assassination and judicial malpractice, five years on death row, and a total of sixteen and a half years in prison.
The Appendix to this Memoir contains a speech she gave at a Mass Rally as part of the celebrations of the first anniversary of the Grenada Revolution. It is well worth reading 39 years later. Phyllis Coard was finally freed in March 2000, after surgery for colon cancer. Mother of three and grandmother of four, she now lives in Jamaica with her husband of fifty-one years.
Grenada – Forward Ever is setting up a page on which you can buy this book. Look out for details. In the meantime copies can be purchased all good bookshops, ordered through your public library or obtain from Amazon at https://amzn.to/2K7NuwW.
By Our Own Hands – A People’s History of the Grenadian Revolution
A pamphlet from Caribbean Labour Solidarity by Steve Cushion and Dennis Bartholomew
Between 1979 and 1983, the people of the Caribbean nation of Grenada made, through their Revolution, a courageous attempt to overcome the legacy of enslavement, British colonialism (slavery lite) and a viciously corrupt post-colonial dictatorship.
The tragic last few days of the Revolution have obscured the remarkable achievements of the Grenadian people during the previous four years. In the face of the unceasing hostility of the United States government and its continual destabilisation campaign, the people of Grenada rebuilt their economy with an emphasis on social justice and economic stability rather than mere profit for, mainly foreign, capitalists; they established a remarkable education system and improved their health service; they started a house-building and housing repair programme that addressed the needs of the poorest members of society.
This publication illustrates the numerous projects successfully undertaken by the Grenadians during the Revolution, many of which continue today.
Grenada – Forward Ever is setting up a page on which you can buy this book. Look out for details. In the meantime copies can be purchased all good bookshops, ordered through your public library or obtain from Caribbean Labour Solidarity at http://bit.ly/2WmHdEs.
The Grenada Revolution: What Really Happened?: Volume 1
by Bernard Coard
An historic book by Bernard Coard, former deputy PM of Peoples Revolutionary Government of Grenada and Finance Minister from March 1979 to October 1983.
It is an attempt by Bernard Coard to focus on the period with candour, relying on available court, government and New Jewel Movement party records, newspaper articles, interviews as well as personal experience, to reveal the facts. Bernard is known to many in the UK, especially in education, for his ground-breaking 1971 work ‘How the West Indian Child is Made Educationally Sub-normal in the British School System’http://bit.ly/2YJHFdf.
On October 25, 1983, the United States of America invaded the Caribbean island of Grenada. This act was condemned by HM Government and later, on November 2, 1983, by the United Nations General Assembly, who, with a vote of 108 to 9, described it as “a flagrant violation of international law.”
The pretext of the United States invading the country was to ‘save US citizens,’ after an internal government crisis had led to the tragic death of the charismatic Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop.
During the operations, vast numbers of Grenadian citizens were detained. Later, with the support of their allies, US forces orchestrated a show trial on the grounds of the Richmond Hill Prison, at the end of which the defendants were sentenced to death. This group, primarily soldiers and former government ministers who became known as the Grenada 17, included the Deputy Prime Minister, Bernard Coard.
The judicial process was found by Amnesty International to be fatally flawed. In their report “The Grenada 17: The Last of the Cold War Prisoners?” they noted that the trial did not meet international norms, nor was it in line with basic international human rights standards. Tellingly, the written judgement has never been produced by the hired judges. After a successful international campaign, the death penalty was commuted. However, the Grenada 17 were incarcerated for up to 26 years where they survived horrendous conditions which included torture and solitary confinement.
The United States had waged a systematic psychological campaign to smear the Grenada Revolution of 1979-1983, which nonetheless became a beacon of change in the Caribbean, holding aloft the standard of social justice. After the tragic end to the Revo, many of the detainees were targets of continued campaigns to destroy their reputations, in particular Bernard Coard. An Appeal to HM Privy Council which addressed Constitutional issues eventually led the way to the freedom of the 17.
This course, however, has still never allowed for an independent impartial inquiry which would have accurately exposed the details of the situation in Grenada which preceded the invasion.
Further, the Court of Appeal written judgement has judgement never been released by the hired judges.
Grenada – Forward Ever is setting up a page on which you can buy this book. Look out for details. In the meantime copies can be purchased all good bookshops, ordered through your public library or obtain from Amazon at https://amzn.to/2K4e8H1.
My Mother And I: The Epic Story of Grenada
by Kamau McBarnette
This extraordinary book is at one and the same time a work of literature and of history. It is told with poetic flair, in language which brings vividly to life the environment and culture of the first Grenadians, the Caribs and Arawaks, the wars of conquest and occupation of these Grenadians, and their final stand against the French at Leapers’ Hill in Sauteurs.
The horrors of enslavement, and the several wars between the British and the French for ownership of Grenada are compellingly captured. The anti-British, anti-slavery rebellion of 1795-1796, led by Julien Fedon, is narrated in nail-biting style, as are the Grenada ex-Servicemen’s riot of 1920, and the Eric Gairy-led 1951 Revolution.
The1973-1974 anti-Gairy mass uprising, the 1979-1983 Grenada Revolution, and the crisis, tragedy and US military invasion, all in October 1983, are dramatically narrated.The author finds intriguing ways to explore the continuity, and essential unity, of all these many conflicts and struggles of its many different peoples over the four centuries of Post-Columbian history. This docu-novel grab you from the opening chapters, and compels you to keep reading to its very end. You can see the mountains and valleys, the trees and grass, the bays and sunsets as they are described, and feel the sea breezes on your face that McBarnette paints with arresting imagery. Likewise, you picture the chief protagonists whom he portrays in each major dramatic phase of Grenada’s turbulent history. This is a work which will bring sheer enjoyment to adults and students alike, even as it educates and inspires.
Grenada – Forward Ever is setting up a page on which you can buy this book. Look out for details. In the meantime copies can be purchased all good bookshops, ordered through your public library or obtain from Amazon at https://amzn.to/2ExM7nP.
Forward Ever: Journey To A New Grenada (The Grenada Revolution)
by Bernard Coard
In this companion volume to The Grenada Revolution: What Really Happened? Coard completes the compelling story of the Grenada Revolution’s four and a half years. The many internal and external challenges to its existence, and its extraordinary achievements and victories, as also its mistakes, are narrated vividly and with a wealth of independent evidence.
The race to institutionalize the Revolution, on the one hand, and the U.S. Reagan Administration’s determination to invade and prevent this, are captured in Coard’s trademark, gripping style.
Grenada – Forward Ever is setting up a page on which you can buy this book. Look out for details. In the meantime copies can be purchased all good bookshops, ordered through your public library or obtain from Amazon at https://amzn.to/2M7vJ3w
We Move Tonight: The Making of the Grenada Revolution
by Joseph Ewart Layne
On March 13th, 1979, the people of the Caribbean were stunned as they awoke to the news of the first successful revolution in the English-Speaking Caribbean. Four and a half years later the Revolution succumbed to tragedy and US military invasion. This extraordinary book was the first to give the inside story of the thinking, the internal debates, concrete plans and actions of the Grenadian revolutionary leaders as they both responded to events unfolding in the 1970’s and sought to shape them. The different and distinct personalities of the political and military leaders of the Revolution come to life, as the author, from his personal knowledge as a young patriot himself, narrates the events of the period and the roles of the various leaders in them.
Students of Grenadian and Caribbean history, politics and sociology will find this not only a fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable read, but an indispensable reference work. Anyone, moreover, who wishes to understand the seeds of both the remarkable achievements of the Grenada Revolution and of its implosion, will also need to study this book carefully. Written in a direct, simple, engaging and at times poetic style, the ordinary citizen of Grenada, the Caribbean region, and the West Indian Diaspora will find it impossible to put this book down once the first page is read.
Grenada – Forward Ever is setting up a page on which you can buy this book. Look out for details. In the meantime copies can be purchased all good bookshops, ordered through your public library or obtain from Amazon at https://amzn.to/2Hz2JgJ.
The Grenada Revolution: Setting the Record Straight
by Richard Hart
Richard Hart, the prominent lawyer, Caribbean socialist and Attorney General to the Peoples Revolutionary Government during the Grenada Revolution, had written The Grenada Revolution: setting the record straight in response to the numerous inaccurate accounts of the Grenada Revolution.
He had, in particular, responded to untruths contained in the autobiography of the late Sir Paul Scoon, Survival For Service: My Experience as Governor General of Grenada. Scoon was appointed to the office in 1973, on the recommendation of the then Prime Minister Eric Gairy, whose brutality ultimately led to the Revolution.
The role of Governor General is to act as de facto head of state, carrying out the ceremonial day-to-day duties on behalf of the Monarch, to countries known more traditionally as Commonwealth realms.
Following the Revolution in 1979 Scoon was retained by the Revolutionaries so as to maintain links with the Queen and Commonwealth. Following the US invasion he immediately toed their line and began to produce and circulate matters, which can be mildly described as untruths but more accurately considered deceits.
Grenada – Forward Ever is setting up a page on which you can buy this book. Look out for details. In the meantime copies can be purchased all good bookshops, ordered through your public library or obtained from the Socialist History Society at http://bit.ly/2wezhGD.