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Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know [Hardcover]

Julia E Sweig
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

25 Jun 2009 What Everyone Needs to Know
Ever since Fidel Castro assumed power in Cuba in 1959, Americans have been obsessed with the socialist nation ninety miles south of Florida, an obsession fueled in part by successive waves of Cuban immigration and Castro's fiery, larger-than-life persona. Cuban-Americans are today a major ethnic group in Florida, and the exile community is a powerful force in American politics. But what do Americans really know about Cuba? In Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know, award-winning author Julia E. Sweig, one of America's leading experts on Cuba and Latin America, presents a concise, authoritative, and remarkably accessible portrait of the small island nation, using an innovative question-and-answer format to illuminate Cuba's unique place on the world stage over the past fifty years. Following a scene-setting introduction that describes the dynamics unleashed since summer 2006 when Fidel Castro transferred provisional power to his brother Raul, the book sets the stage with a concise overview of Cuba's history from its days as a Spanish colony through the first half of the twentieth century before shifting to more recent events: the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, the exploits of Che Guevara in the early years of the revolution, the saga of Elián Gonzalez in 2000, and Castro's failing health and the changes under the presidency of his brother Raul since 2008. Focusing equally on Cuba's role in world affairs and its own social and political transformations, Sweig divides the book chronologically into the pre-Fidel era, the period between the 1959 revolution and the fall of the Soviet Union, the post-Cold War era, and—finally—the looming post-Fidel era. Compact and expansive, lively and intriguing—like the country itself—Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know is the best ready reference on Cuba's internal politics, its often fraught relationship with the United States, and its shifting role within the global community.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: OUP USA (25 Jun 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195383796
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195383799
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 13.8 x 20.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,039,372 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Remarkable book. (Roger Fletcher. Morning Star)

This scrupulous balance-sheet of reason for pride and pain in Havanna will inform and enrich any trip. (The Independent)

About the Author

Julia E. Sweig is the Nelson and David Rockefeller Senior Fellow for Latin America Studies and Director for Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. She is the author of Inside the Cuban Revolution (winner of the AHA Herbert Feis award for the best book of the year by an independent scholar) and Friendly Fire: Losing Friends and Making Enemies in the Anti-American Century. She lives with her family outside of Washington, DC.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Cuba: what everyone needs to know is a comprehensive summary of key aspects of Cuba's history and politics which should be of interest not only to visitors to the island but also to the casual reader. Julia Sweig is an American academic but her viewpoint is utterly disinterested and she clearly has a profound understanding of her subject. The book is set out in a question and answer format which is very helpful if you are looking for a particular piece of information. The book starts with an introduction to key themes such as the struggle for independence and Cuba's journey to 1959 but goes on to focus mainly on the post-revolutionary period, looking at Cuba's domestic situation, its complex relationship with the US and also at the island's relations with the wider world. The transition from Fidel to Raul Castro is dealt with in depth and the book is up-to-date enough to include information on the dramatic shift in policy between the Bush and Obama administrations. If you have ever wondered how Elian Gonzalez scuppered Al Gore's chance of being US president or who the Cuban Five are (or even if you haven't) this is a book you really shouldn't miss.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Cuba -what everyone needs to know" 19 Jan 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A book that is bang up to date, and takes account of Obama's presidency. The format of the book [a "Question and Answer" style] mightn't suit everyone, but certainly makes it easier for students to find their way around some of the key elements of Cuban history and politics. The author's written style is readily digestible, and as an "opener" to further reading and research on Cuba,its a book that I suggest is well worth a read.

Tom Jackson
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and propoganda-free primer 2 Feb 2012
This is an excellent primer, providing enough information on the history and politics of Cuba to answer most people's questions, and with a useful bibliography at the back if you want to learn more. It is scrupulously written and completely free of propoganda or bias. My sole criticism is that it is dating slightly, and towards the end it was obvious that reading what the author "assumes" will happen in 2009, 2010 and 2011 is a flaw that could only be rectified by a new edition. I'm happy to see that a new edition is due to be published late in 2012, and I'm greatly looking forward to this.
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