Cuba: Book summary and reviews of Cuba by Ada Ferrer

Cuba

An American History

by Ada Ferrer

Cuba by Ada Ferrer X
Cuba by Ada Ferrer
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Book Summary

Filled with rousing stories and characters, and drawing on more than thirty years of research in Cuba, Spain, and the United States—as well as the author's own extensive travel to the island over the same period—this is a stunning and monumental account like no other.

In 1961, at the height of the Cold War, the United States severed diplomatic relations with Cuba, where a momentous revolution had taken power three years earlier. For more than half a century, the stand-off continued—through the tenure of ten American presidents and the fifty-year rule of Fidel Castro. His death in 2016, and the retirement of his brother and successor Raúl Castro in 2021, have spurred questions about the country's future. Meanwhile, politics in Washington—Barack Obama's opening to the island, Donald Trump's reversal of that policy, and the election of Joe Biden—have made the relationship between the two nations a subject of debate once more.

Now, award-winning historian Ada Ferrer delivers an "important" (The Guardian) and moving chronicle that demands a new reckoning with both the island's past and its relationship with the United States. Spanning more than five centuries, Cuba: An American History provides us with a front-row seat as we witness the evolution of the modern nation, with its dramatic record of conquest and colonization, of slavery and freedom, of independence and revolutions made and unmade.

Along the way, Ferrer explores the sometimes surprising, often troubled intimacy between the two countries, documenting not only the influence of the United States on Cuba but also the many ways the island has been a recurring presence in US affairs. This is a story that will give Americans unexpected insights into the history of their own nation and, in so doing, help them imagine a new relationship with Cuba; "readers will close [this] fascinating book with a sense of hope" (The Economist).

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  • award image Pulitzer Prize Winners, 2022

Reviews

Media Reviews

"The heroes of Ada Ferrer's narrative are the island's nationalists and reformers... . [She] reveals a relationship that is deeper and more troubled than it may appear... . Yet readers will close Ms. Ferrer's fascinating book with a sense of hope... . moving." —The Economist

"Cuba focuses on the equivocal relationship of the two countries, and presents it convincingly as symbiotic... . exemplary ... [full of] lively insights and lucid prose... . By being equally severe with Cuban leaders and US leaders, Ms. Ferrer achieves an honorable objective: pleasing nobody by being just." —Wall Street Journal

"Important... . rather than putting geopolitics or 'great men' at the heart of the book, Ferrer's focus is on the Cuban people, the descendants of whom are calling for libertad." —The Guardian

"A sweeping chronicle of the island nation and its complex relationship to the United States." —LA Times (Winner of the LA Times Book Prize in History)

"Ferrer's narrative history of Cuba's past 500 years is epic, authoritative, and deeply insightful... . [an] essential book... . Cuba is broad and expansive and inclusive, telling a hemisphere-wide story of colonialism, enslavement, and entangled empires, nations, and peoples—the legacies of which are still with us." —Geraldo Cadava, Public Books

"Offers a fresh look at the long and complicated relationship between Cuba and its larger neighbor to the north, upending long-held conceptions and untangling myth from reality." —USA Today

"Intriguing and nuanced... . Through the story of one small island, Cuba: An American History allows Americans to look at themselves through the eyes of others." —Americas Quarterly

"This monumental new book represents another formidable piece of original scholarship. It is written, moreover, in an admirably paced narrative style, which, one suspects, will earn it pride of place among the published histories of Cuba." —Jon Lee Anderson, Foreign Affairs

"An encompassing look back at Cuba, from before the arrival of Columbus to the present day... . a moving chronicle of the relationship between the United States and Cuba and what that's meant for both sides." —Forbes

This information about Cuba was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Ada Ferrer

Ada Ferrer is Julius Silver Professor of History and Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University, where she has taught since 1995. She is the author of Insurgent Cuba: Race, Nation, and Revolution, 1868–1898, winner of the Berkshire Book Prize for the best first book by a woman in any field of history, and Freedom's Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of Revolution, which won the Frederick Douglass Book Prize from the Gilder Lehrman Center at Yale University as well as multiple prizes from the American Historical Association. Born in Cuba and raised in the United States, she has been traveling to and conducting research on the island since 1990.

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