A Distinguished Professor of history at UCLA, Carla Pestana holds the Joyce Appleby Endowed Chair of America in the World there; from 2018 until 2022, she served as department chair. She attended graduate school at UCLA, where she studied with Appleby as well as Gary Nash. Prior to joining the faculty at UCLA, Pestana taught at the Ohio State University, Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. Her research focuses on revolution, religion, and empire in early America and the English Atlantic world, and she frequently returns to the Quakers, the subject of her first publication. Her teaching covers these topics as well as pirates and witches, among other subjects. Her most recent books include Plymouth Plantation in the Atlantic World (2020), The English Conquest of Jamaica: Oliver Cromwell's Bid for Empire (2017), Protestant Empire: Religion and the Making of the British Atlantic World (2009), and The English Atlantic in an Age of Revolution, 1640–1661 (2004). She has blogged for the Huffington Post.
In 1655, a massive expeditionary force sent out by Oliver Cromwell to conquer all of the Spanish West Indies seized only the modest prize of the island of Jamaica. Popularly assessed to have been a failure at the time, this conquest nonetheless had, as Pestana demonstrates, major consequences for England, the Atlantic World and particularly for the colonies in North America that would go on to become the United States.