the next good book

Cuba: An American History

By Ada Ferrer


560 pages

What’s it about?

This book details the history of Cuba.  Beginning before the arrival of Christopher Columbus and continuing to the present day.  It documents how the small nation of Cuba was created, influenced, and has moved forward.

What did it make me think about?

This comprehensive book about Cuba made me think of how much history I just do not know. “By 1907, foreigners owned an estimated 60 percent of all rural property in Cuba.  Resident Spaniards owned another 15 percent, which left only a quarter of rural property under Cuban ownership.  The number is so staggering it bears repeating in slightly different terms: less than a decade after independence, perhaps 3/4 of Cuban territory belonged to foreigners, a significant portion to Americans.”

Should I read it?

If you have any interest in history this is a very compelling book.  I had vague recollections of the Monroe Doctrine, the Spanish-American War, and the Cuban Missile Crisis but this book filled in all my gaps in knowledge (although don’t expect me to remember it all…).  I had no idea how closely tied Cuba was to slavery- and thus how closely tied the American South was to Cuba.  The importance of slavery to Cuban sugar production and who benefited from that system.  Ada Ferrer does a masterful job giving us an objective view of how we got to our acrimonious relationship with the island 90 miles from our shore.


“Such sentiments exemplified the long-standing impasse in Cubans’ and Americans’ understanding of their shared history.  And the two interpretations could not have been more at odds.  What Americans saw as an act of selfless benevolence, Cubans saw as an act of colonial imposition.  That antagonism mattered now more than ever, for it was precisely the colonial relationship between the United States and Cuba that the revolution was beginning to challenge.  Unable to perceive that relationship as a colonial one, Americans were at a loss to understand what was happening in Cuba and quick to perceive all of it as naive ingratitude, at best, and outright communism, at worst.”



Related books: