In the previous chapter we read of this book, the authors introduced the topic of their book. The topic of their book is about studying the people of Havana in the sixteenth century, rather than viewing the port city as being a sort of “service station” for ships. In this chapter of the book, the authors decide to do some background research on the ship traffic of Havana before moving onto studying the locals. This makes sense, because researching the traffic the city had with various ships coming to trade could be helpful with understanding the markets in Havana.
As with the previous chapter, I decided to focus on a more technical aspect of this chapter, rather than the historical aspect that was intended for reading. What I ended up honing in on more was when the authors mentioned use of sources, when they referenced other historians, or when they pointed out any possible flaws in their sources. Learning by example can sometimes be the best way to learn, so that is why I decided to read the chapter in this manner. Some of the ways that the authors helped the reader to understand certain numerical sources were by putting them in a chart, table, or graph format. A few examples of this can be seen on page 13 with the table “Shipping Movement, 1571-1610,” and on page 15 with the table “Value of Imports and Exports (in Reales).” Not only does it help legitimize the content of their book, it also helps the reader to better understand specific information that is being discussed. For an example, the “Shipping Movement” table helps to visualize that trading movement “increased significantly in the second half of the sixteenth century” in Havana when the reader sees the numbers increase as they get further through the chart (de la Fuente, et. al, 13).
Sarah E Jones