The study of the history of Cuba has changed much in the United States during the past three decades. So too has the character of the historiography and the direction of historical research. Thirty years ago in the United States the subject of Cuban history was very much terra incognita. A graduate student's reading list on Cuban historiography during the early 1960s would have found hardly anything beyond the works of Charles E. Chapman, Russell H. Fitzgibbon, David Lockmiller, Irene A. Wright, and Hubert S. Aimes, largely written before 1935, almost all of which were already out of print and of limited value in shedding light on the tumultuous and extraordinary events then occurring in Cuba. Before the decade ended, new names were added to the list, including Robert Freeman Smith and Hugh Thomas, scholars who made important advances in the historiography of Cuba and who were among the first to provide a historical framework through which to understand Cuban events after 1959.
The Cuban revolution set in sharp relief the need to develop a usable history through which to approach an understanding of the Cuban experience. Historiographical concerns of enduring interest to virtually all scholars, issues such as colonialism, slavery, racism, imperialism, and revolution, revealed themselves as part of a historical process with antecedents dating back to the sixteenth century and with implications reaching to the end of the twentieth century. The historical scholarship on Cuba presented a past rich with issues of enormous vitality that