Magazine article Foreign Affairs

Cuba Libre: A 500-Year Quest for Independence/Waiting for Uncle John

Magazine article Foreign Affairs

Cuba Libre: A 500-Year Quest for Independence/Waiting for Uncle John

Article excerpt

Cuba Libre: A 500-Year Quest for Independence BY PHILIP BRENNER AND PETER EISNER. Rowman & Littlefield, 2017, 438 pp.

Waiting for Uncle John BY JAMES OLIVER GOLDSBOROUGH. Prospecta Press, 2018, 320 pp.

A productive partnership between Brenner, a veteran Cuba expert, and Eisner, an accomplished journalist, has brought forth an eminently accessible, engaging journey through five centuries of Cuba's tortured yet hopeful history- a story unified, in the authors' view, by the island's heroic struggles for selfdetermination. The indigenous Taino chief Hatuey courageously resisted European domination in the sixteenth century. Hundreds of years later, Cubans launched a bloody struggle for independence from Spain, and Fidel Castro led a socialist revolution to purge the island of U.S. influence. Although the sovereignty thesis is powerful in its clarity, it arguably underestimates the island's prolonged adherence first to Spain (which earned Cuba a reputation for imperial loyalty), then to the United States (which enjoyed the support of a prosperous Cuban middle class and not just a tiny capitalist elite), and later to the Soviet Union. As the sweeping narrative frequently suggests, full-blown autonomy may not be a genuine option for a small island state. …

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