Cuban independence arrived formally on May 20, 1902, with the raising of the Cuban flag in Havana – a properly orchestrated and orderly inauguration of the new republic. But something had gone awry. Republican reality fell far short of the separatist ideal. In an unusually powerful book that will appeal to the general reader as well as to the specialist, Louis A. Perez, Jr., recounts the story of the critical years when Cuba won its independence from Spain only to fall in the American orbit.
The last quarter of the nineteenth century found Cuba enmeshed in a complicated colonial environment, tied to the declining Spanish empire yet economically dependent on the newly ascendant United States. Rebellion against Spain had involved two generations of Cubans in major but fruitless wars. By careful examination of the social and economic changes occurring in Cuba, and of the political content of the separatist movement, the author argues that the successful insurrection of 1895-98 was not simply the last of the New World rebellions against European colonialism. It was the first of a genre that would become increasingly familiar in the twentieth century: a guerrilla war of national liberation aspiring to the transformation of society.
The third player in the drama was the United States. For almost a century, the United States had pursuedthe acquistion of Cuba. Stepping in when Spain was defeated, the Americans occupied Cuba ostensibly to prepare it for independence but instead deliberately created institutions that restored the social hierarchy and guaranteed political and economic dependence. It was not the last time the U.S. intervention would thwart the Cuban revolutionary impulse.
In both method and content . . . a magnificent contribution to Cuban history. Its extensive and intensive research makes it a landmark of Cuban historical scholarship on this period.
An exceptionally engaging work on an important topic, unified by a clear thesis and substantiated with extensive research in primary sources. . . . Unquestionably a major contribution.
Exhaustively researched and carefully wrought, the work dissects the factions and divisions of the Cuban policy with path-breaking thoroughness.
With the publication of this volume Louis A. Perez, Jr., has clearly emerged as the authority for pre-1959 Cuban history. . . . [He] does a skillful job of interweaving the developments in Spain, Cuba, and the United States. This technique is especially valuable for demonstrating the relationship between U.S. foreign policy decisions and internal Cuban developments.
Perez's work is a real contribution to the study of Cuban history at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.
The author's interpretation of these years is compelling and convincing. . . . The result of extensive research and careful argument, this work is not only a scholarly monograph but a well-written book that will illuminate the period studied as well as the subsequent course of Cuban history for scholars, students, and the general readers. Most highly recommended.
Brilliantly written and based on solid research.
It is the most thorough and comprehensive account of late-nineteenth-century Cuba that has yet appeared, and is to be highly recommended to those interested in Caribbean affairs.
Louis A. Perez Jr. is J. Carlyle Sitterson Professor of History at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.learn more