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. "The Cuba Reader" multiplies perspectives on the nation many times over, presenting more than 100 selections about Cuba'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 both on and off the island and many appear for the first time in English. The writings and speeches of Jose Marti, Fernando Ortiz, Fidel Castro, Alejo Carpentier, Che Guevera, and Reinaldo Arenas appear alongside the testimonies of slaves, prostitutes, doctors, travellers, and activists.
Some selections examine health, education, Catholicism, and santeria; others celebrate Cuba'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 20th-century Cuba, including the events leading up to and following Castro'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 period following the cutoff of Soviet aid and the tightening of the U.S. embargo.
Aviva Chomsky is Professor of History and Coordinator of Latin American Studies at Salem State College. She is the author of West Indian Workers and the United Fruit Company in Costa Rica, 1870-1940 and coeditor of Identity and Struggle at the Margins of the Nation-State: The Laboring Peoples of Central America and the Hispanic Caribbean (published by Duke University Press).
Barry Carr is Director of the Institute of Latin American Studies at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. He is the author of Marxism and Communism in Twentieth-Century Mexico and coeditor of The Latin American Left: From the Fall of Allende to Perestroika.
Pamela Maria Smorkaloff is Director of Latin American and Latino Studies and Assistant Professor of Spanish at Montclair State University. She is the author of Cuban Writers on and off the Island: Contemporary Narrative Fiction and Readers and Writers in Cuba: A Social History of Print Culture, 1830s-1990s and editor of If I Could Write This in Fire: An Anthology of Literature from the Caribbean.