Unless otherwise indicated, all OI books are distributed by The University of North Carolina Press.

The Smugglers’ World

Illicit Trade and Atlantic Communities in Eighteenth-Century Venezuela

Jesse Cromwell

Cloth: 978-1-4696-3688-7 ($39.95)

Copyright 2018
University of North Carolina Press

A Prize-Winning Book

  • Bandelier-Lavrin Book Prize in Colonial Latin American History, Rocky Mountain Council for Latin American Studies (2018)


"In this deeply researched and theoretically sophisticated history of smuggling and its enemies, Jessie Cromwell brings tacitly accepted illicit trade into sharp and dramatic relief. Venezuelans of all tyes found a sense of 'community in criminiality' by resiting state actors' attempts to monopolize local cacao. This novel argument adds much to the new history of corrruption in the Iberian empires and to the Bourbon reforms and their consequences. Its also says a lot about that old devil, chocolate."

--Kris E. Lane, Tulane University

"Jesse Cromwell's wonderful new book is a beautifully written study of he multinational and multiracial smuggling networks of the circum-Caribbean. As he shows, long neglected and under-provisioned peripheries of the Spanishe Empire over time established a moral economy that normalized smuggling despite the sometimes harsh consequences. The Smugglers' World will be a welcome addition to my Atlantic World courses."

--Jane Landers, Vanderbilt University

"A fascinating investigation of the murkey word of contraband commerce. Illicit trade flourished in early modern Venezuela; it was commonplace, normative, mundane, part of the ordinary fabric of life. Cromwell's insightful book is a tour de force exploration of clandestine, covert, interimperial trade."

--Philip D. Morgan, John Hopkins University

"This masterfiul social history traces Europeans' love of chocolate to it's main South American source. Cromwell brings colonial Venezuela out of obscurity and offers powerful insights about the negotiated character of empires and the centrality of smuggling to a multitude of Americans: lowly enslaved producers, interloping French, Dutch, and British merchants funneling cacao into transatlantic networks, and Spanish officials who strove in vain to enforce mercantilist ideals. Within a comparative Atlantic framing, Cromwell's Venezuelans make 1770s Bostonians look like honest, peacful law-abiding subjects and Bermudians only slightly crooked."

--Micheal J. Jarvis, University of Rochester