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The Cuba Reader: History, Culture, Politics


The Cuba Reader: History, Culture, Politics Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Cuba is often perceived in starkly black and white termsandmdash;either as the site of one of Latin Americaandrsquo;s most successful revolutions or as the bastion of the worldandrsquo;s last communist regime. The Cuba Reader multiplies perspectives on the nation many times over, presenting more than one hundred selections about Cubaandrsquo;s history, culture, and politics. Beginning with the first written account of the island, penned by Christopher Columbus in 1492, the selections assembled here track Cuban history from the colonial period through the ascendancy of Fidel Castro to the present.

The Cuba Reader combines songs, paintings, photographs, poems, short stories, speeches, cartoons, government reports and proclamations, and pieces by historians, journalists, and others. Most of these are by Cubans, and many appear for the first time in English. The writings and speeches of Josandeacute; Martandiacute;, Fernando Ortiz, Fidel Castro, Alejo Carpentier, Che Guevera, and Reinaldo Arenas appear alongside the testimonies of slaves, prostitutes, doctors, travelers, and activists. Some selections examine health, education, Catholicism, and santerandiacute;a; others celebrate Cubaandrsquo;s vibrant dance, music, film, and literary cultures. The pieces are grouped into chronological sections. Each section and individual selection is preceded by a brief introduction by the editors.

The volume presents a number of pieces about twentieth-century Cuba, including the events leading up to and following Castroandrsquo;s January 1959 announcement of revolution. It provides a look at Cuba in relation to the rest of the world: the effect of its revolution on Latin America and the Caribbean, its alliance with the Soviet Union from the 1960s until the collapse of the Soviet bloc in 1989, and its tumultuous relationship with the United States. The Cuba Reader also describes life in the periodo especial following the cutoff of Soviet aid and the tightening of the U.S. embargo.

For students, travelers, and all those who want to know more about the island nation just ninety miles south of Florida, The Cuba Reader is an invaluable introduction.


The essential collection of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, journalism, history and cultral writing from and about Cuba. The latest in the series that also includes the Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, and Peru Readers.


Includes bibliographical references (p. [691]-700) and index.


Cuba is often perceived in starkly black and white terms--either as the site of one of Latin America's most successful revolutions or as the repressive regime that is the world's last bastion of communism. This book aims to give a more balanced view.

About the Author

“What a beautiful journey through five hundred years of Cuban history, culture, and politics! The Cuba Reader is a sumptuous medley of poetry, song, speeches, interviews, and vignettes from novels new and old. You’ll hear the voices of santeros and sugar workers, prostitutes and politicos, revolutionaries and reporters, dissidents and dancers. It’s the next best thing to being in Cuba, so sit back with a mojito and enjoy the masterfully guided tour.”—Medea Benjamin, activist and cofounder of Global Exchange
"The Cuba Reader offers a splendid overview of the Cuban experience, past and present, through a dazzling array of points of view. The voices of participants and observers and perspectives on the extraordinary and the commonplace—with imagery conveyed by way of photography and poetry, through the lyric of music and the nuance of the novel—make for a compelling collection of material. The very fullness of its vision makes The Cuba Reader an indispensable book for courses—of every academic discipline—on Cuba.”—Louis A. Pérez, Jr., author of On Becoming Cuban: Identity, Nationality, and Culture

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction 1

I Indigenous Society and Conquest

Christopher Columbus andquot;Discoversandquot; Cuba / Christopher Columbus 9

The Devastation of the Indies / Bartolome de Las Casas 12

Spanish Officials and Indigenous Resistance / Various Spanish Officials 15

A World Destroyed / Juan Perez de la Riva 20

andquot;Transculturationandquot; and Cuba / Fernando Ortiz 26

Survival Stories / Jose Barreiro 28

II Sugar, Slavery, and Colonialism

A Physician's Notes on Cuba / John G. F. Wurdemann 39

The Death of the Forest / Manuel Moreno Fraginals 44

Autobiography of a Slave / Juan Francisco Manzano 49

Biography of a Runaway Slave / Miguel Barnet 58

Fleeing Slavery / Miguel Barnet, Pedro Deschamps Chapeaux, Rafael Garcia, and Rafael Duharte 65

Santiago de Cuba's Fugitive Slaves / Rafael Duharte 69

Rumba / Yvonne Daniel 74

The Trade in Chinese Laborers / Richard Dana 79

Life on a Coffee Plantation / John G. F. Wurdemann 83

Cuba's First Railroad / David Turnbull 88

The Color Line / Jose Antonio Saco 91

Abolition! / Father Felix Varela 94

Cecilia Valdes / Cirilo Villaverde 97

Sab / Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda y Arteaga 103

An Afro-Cuban Poet / Placido 110

III The Struggle for Independence

Freedom and Slavery / Carlos Manuel de Cespedes 115

Memories of a Cuban Girl / Renee Mendez Capote 118

Jose Marti's andquot;Our Americaandquot; / Jose Marti 122

Guantanamera / Jose Marti 128

The Explosion of the Maine / New York Journal 130

U.S. Cartoonists Portray Cuba / John J. Johnson 135

The Devastation of Counterinsurgency / Fifty-fifth Congress, Second Session 139

IV Neocolonialism

The Platt Amendment / President Theodore Roosevelt 147

Imperialism and Sanitation / Nancy Stepan 150

A Child of the Platt Amendment / Renee Mendez Capote 154

Spain in Cuba / Manuel Moreno Fraginals 157

The Independent Party of Color / El Partido Independiente de Color 163

A Survivor / Isidoro Santos Carrera 167

Rachel's Song / Miguel Barnet 171

Honest Women / Miguel de Carrion 180

Generals and Doctors / Carlos Loveira 186

A Crucial Decade / Lolo de la Torriente 189

Afrocubanismo and Son / Robin Moore 192

Drums in My Eyes / Nicolas Guillen 201

Abakua / Rafael Lopez Valdes 212

The First Wave of Cuban Feminism / Ofelia Dominguez Navarro 219

Life at the Mill / Ursinio Rojas 226

Migrant Workers in the Sugar Industry / Levi Marrero 234

The Cuban Counterpoint / Fernando Ortiz 239

The Invasion of the Tourists / Rosalie Schwartz 244

Waiting Tables in Havana / Cipriano Chinea Palero and Lynn Geldof 253

The Brothel of the Caribbean / Tomas Fernandez Robaina 257

A Prostitute Remembers / Oscar Lewis, Ruth M. Lewis, and Susan M. Rigdon 260

Sugarcane / Nicolas Guillen 264

Where is Cuba Headed? / Julio Antonio Mella 265

The Chase / Alejo Carpentier 270

The Fall of Machado / R. Hart Phillips 274

Sugar Mills and Soviets / Salvador Rionda 281

The United States Confronts the 1933 Revolution / Sumner Welles and Cordell Hull 283

The Political Gangster / Samuel Farber 287

The United Fruit Company in Cuba / Oscar Zanetti 290

Cuba's Largest Inheritance / Bohemia 296

The Last Call / Eduardo A. Chibas 298

For Us, It Is Always the 26th of July / Carlos Puebla 300

Three Comandantes Talk It Over / Carlos Franqui 302

History Will Absolve Me / Fidel Castro 306

Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War / Che Guevara 315

The United States Rules Cuba, 1952-1958 / Morris Morley 321

The Cuban Story in the New York Times / Herbert L. Matthews 326

V Building a New Society

And Then Fidel Arrived / Carlos Puebla 337

Tornado / Silvio Rodriguez 340

Castro Announces the Revolution / Fidel Castro 341

How the Poor Got More / Medea Benjamin, Joseph Collins, and Michael Scott 344

Fish a la Grande Jardiniere / Humberto Arenal 354

Women in the Swamps / Margaret Randall 363

Man and Socialism / Ernesto andquot;Cheandquot; Guevara 370

In the Fist of the Revolution / Jose Yglesias 375

The Agrarian Revolution / Medea Benjamin, Joseph Collins, and Michael Scott 378

1961: The Year of Education / Richard R. Fagen 386

The Literacy Campaign / Oscar Lewis, Ruth M. Lewis, and Susan M. Rigdon 389

The andquot;Rehabilitationandquot; of Prostitutes / Oscar Lewis, Ruth M. Lewis, and Susan M. Rigdon 395

The Family Code / Margaret Randall 399

Homosexuality, Creativity, Dissidence / Reinaldo Arenas 406

The Original Sin / Pablo Milanes 412

Where the Island Sleeps Like a Wing / Nancy Morejon 414

Silence on Black Cuba / Carlos Moore 419

Black Man in Red Cuba / John Clytus 424

Post-modern Maroon in the Ultimate Palenque / Christian Parenti 427

From Utopianism to Institutionalization / Juan Antonio Blanco and Medea Benjamin 433

Carlos Puebla Sings about the Economy / Carlos Puebla 443

VI Culture and Revolution

Caliban / Roberto Fernandez Retamar 451

For an Imperfect Cinema / Julio Garcia Espinosa 458

Dance and Social Change / Yvonne Daniel 466

Revolutionary Sport / Paula Pettavino and Geralyn Pye 475

Mea Cuba / Guillermo Cabrera Infante 481

In Hard Times / Heberto Padilla 488

The Virgin of Charity of Cobre, Cuba's Patron Saint / Olga Portuondo Zuniga 490

A Conversation on Santeria and Palo Monte / Oscar Lewis, Ruth M. Lewis, and Susan M. Rigdon 498

The Catholic Church and the Revolution / Ernesto Cardenal 505

Havana's Jewish Community / Tom Miller 509

VII The Cuban Revolution and the World

The Venceremos Brigades / Sandra Levinson 517

The Cuban Revolution and the New Left / Van Gosse 526

The U.S. Government Responds to Revolution / Foreign Relations of the United States 530

Castro Calls on Cubans to Resist the Counterrevolution / Fidel Castro 536

Operation Mongoose / Edward Lansdale 540

Offensive Missiles on That Imprisoned Island / President John F. Kennedy 544

Inconsolable Memories: A Cuban View of the Missile Crisis / Edmundo Desnoes 547

The Assassination Plots / Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities 552

Cuban Refugee Children / Monsignor Bryan O. Walsh 557

From Welcomed Exiles to Illegal Immigrants / Felix Roberto Masud-Piloto 561

Wrong Channel / Roberto Fernandez 566

We Came All the Way from Cuba So You Could Dress Like This? / Achy Obejas 568

City on the Edge / Alejandro Portes and Alex Stepick 581

Singing for Nicaragua / Silvio Rodriguez 588

Cuban Medical Diplomacy / Julie Feinsilver 590

VIII The andquot;Periodo Especialandquot; and the Future of th

Product Details

Carr, Barry
Smorkaloff, Pamela Maria
Chomsky, Aviva
Carr, Barry
Smorkaloff, Pamela Maria
Chomsky, Aviva
Carr, Barry
Starn, Orin
Smorkaloff, Pamela Maria
Kirk, Robin
Chomsky, Aviva
Duke University Press
Durham N.C.
Social history
Political History
Caribbean & West Indies - General
Cuba History.
Caribbean & West Indies
World History-Caribbean
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Latin America Readers
Series Volume:
no. 9.
Publication Date:
94 illustrations
9.25 x 6.13 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Latin America » Cuba
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » Politics » United States » Foreign Policy
History and Social Science » World History » Caribbean
History and Social Science » World History » Cuba
History and Social Science » World History » General
Travel » Travel Writing » General

The Cuba Reader: History, Culture, Politics Used Trade Paper
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Product details 736 pages Duke University Press - English 9780822331971 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
The essential collection of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, journalism, history and cultral writing from and about Cuba. The latest in the series that also includes the Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, and Peru Readers.
"Synopsis" by , Includes bibliographical references (p. [691]-700) and index.
"Synopsis" by , Cuba is often perceived in starkly black and white terms--either as the site of one of Latin America's most successful revolutions or as the repressive regime that is the world's last bastion of communism. This book aims to give a more balanced view.
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