The Cuban Revolution
- LAST REVIEWED: 05 May 2017
- LAST MODIFIED: 25 February 2016
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766581-0027
- LAST REVIEWED: 05 May 2017
- LAST MODIFIED: 25 February 2016
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766581-0027
The triumph of the Cuban Revolution on 1 January 1959 immediately called attention to a country hardly thought about in the United States as anything more than a place of tropical promiscuity, frequented by tourists in pursuit of illicit pleasures and risqué amusements—a setting for honeymoons, a playground for vacations, a brothel, a casino, a cabaret, a good liberty port. With a few notable exceptions, it was impossible to argue that a “scholarship” on Cuba existed in the United States. Everything changed after 1 January 1959, and since then, a formidable body of scholarship has assumed prodigious proportions. Mainly, this literature has focused on politics, policies, and the performance of the Cuban Revolution, spanning such diverse subjects as economic development, government, foreign policy, leadership, race relations, gender, and the arts. Within these general categories, subthemes have developed. For example, no other single facet of Cuban international relations has received as much attention in both countries as Cuban relations with the United States. Similarly, the study of leadership in the Cuban Revolution has focused almost entirely on the biography of Fidel Castro. This is also a literature singularly characterized by a point of view. On the subject of the Cuban Revolution, neutrality is rare. Almost everyone who writes on Cuba has a “position” on the revolution. This is not intended to invite suspicion about the quality of the scholarship. Rather, it is meant to call attention to one of the salient, if not always apparent, qualities intrinsic to the scholarship on the Cuban Revolution. This guide seeks to provide a context for this literature. The sources cited here are informative, are representative of the field, and seek to offer a balanced perspective.
The titles in this section represent the scope of the scholarship on the Cuban Revolution, with a focus principally on the 1950s and later. They provide broad, synthetic, narrative perspectives on the revolution through its principal phases of development and address the complex interplay of the national with the international, politics, economy, and culture, developed within an approximate chronological order, from multiple disciplinary perspectives, including history, sociology, and political science. Pérez-Stable 1999, Kapcia 2008, and Chomsky 2010 offer a historically nuanced perspective from which to assess the course of the revolution. Nelson 1972 is similar in approach but with greater attention to the sociology of the revolution. The role of the Soviet Union is a salient aspect of these studies. Karol 1970 addresses specifically the circumstances that produced the Cuban alliance with the Soviet Union, while del Águila 1984 examines the consequences. The repercussions of the post-Soviet years are the subject of Bengelsdorf 1994 and Eckstein 2003. These overviews provide a broad context from which to take measure of the achievements and shortcomings of the revolution.
Bengelsdorf, Carollee. The Problem of Democracy in Cuba: Between Vision and Reality. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.
A thoughtful examination of the role of ideology in shaping the principal policy approaches to economic development and political participation. The study offers a compelling critique of the inability of Cuban structures to break free from the grip of antidemocratic impulses of Marxist-Leninist precepts. It is particularly useful as a perspective on Cuba during the early years of the post-Soviet period.
Chomsky, Aviva. A History of the Cuban Revolution. New York: Wiley Blackwell, 2010.
A useful fifty-year overview of the Cuban Revolution, set within a larger international context. Emphasis is given to political economy as the principal explanatory approach to the analysis of the revolution.
del Águila, Juan M. Cuba: Dilemmas of a Revolution. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1984.
A generally critical assessment of the politics, policies, and programs of the Cuban revolutionary government. Attention is given principally to Cuban foreign policy, economic development, social programs, and the development of the new institutional structures of the Cuban government.
Eckstein, Susan E. Back from the Future: Cuba under Castro. 2d ed. New York: Routledge, 2003.
An examination of the scope of the revolution, principally through the end of the 20th century. Adopting a thematic approach, the book examines key facets of the process of the revolution, including rectification, internationalism, and the years of the Special Period in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Kapcia, Antoni. Cuba in Revolution: A History since the Fifties. London: Reaktion, 2008.
A highly readable historical survey of fifty years of the Cuban Revolution. The principal thematic highlights include the role of ideology; Fidel Castro; Cuban relations with the United States, the Soviet Union, and China; and the crisis of the post-Soviet years.
Karol, K. S. Guerrillas in Power: The Course of the Cuban Revolution. Translated by Arnold Pomerans. New York: Hill & Wang, 1970.
A critical study of the first ten years of the Cuban Revolution, paying particular attention to the early failure of Cuban development strategies, and specifically agriculture, industry, and manufacturing, within the context of expanding Cuba-Soviet relations.
Nelson, Lowry. Cuba: The Measure of a Revolution. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1972.
An examination of the social conditions in prerevolutionary Cuba as the setting for the transition to socialism. The principal focus is on the impact of the revolution on a number of key aspects of Cuban life, including agriculture, economic diversification, labor, education, family, press, social class, and social services.
Pérez-Stable, Marifeli. The Cuban Revolution: Origins, Course, and Legacy. 2d ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
A critical overview of developments in revolutionary Cuba between 1959 and 1999. Attention is given to the role of nationalism, the vicissitudes of economic development strategies, political institutions, and Cuban relations with the Soviet Union.
Sweig, Julia. Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.
Presented in a question-and-answer format, this overview of early-21st-century Cuba addresses a wide variety of themes, including history, politics and government, the arts, US-Cuba relations, and Fidel Castro.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
How to Subscribe
Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.
- Agricultural Technologies
- Andean Contributions to Rethinking the State and the Natio...
- Antislavery Narratives
- Arab Diaspora in Latin America, The
- Argentina in the Era of Mass Immigration
- Argentina, Slavery in
- Argentine Literature
- Army of Chile in the 19th Century
- Asian Art and Its Impact in the Americas, 1565–1840
- Asian-Peruvian Literature
- Baroque and Neo-baroque Literary Tradition
- Bello, Andrés
- Black Experience in Colonial Latin America, The
- Black Experience in Modern Latin America, The
- Borderlands in Latin America, Conquest of
- Bourbon Reforms, The
- Brazilian Northeast, History of the
- Buenos Aires
- Caribbean Philosophical Association, The
- Caribbean, The Archaeology of the
- Cartagena de Indias
- Caste War of Yucatán, The
- Caudillos, 19th Century
- Cádiz Constitution and Liberalism, The
- Chaco War
- Children, History of
- Chile's Struggle for Independence
- Chronicle, The
- Church in Colonial Latin America, The
- Chávez, Hugo, and the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela
- Cinema, Contemporary Brazilian
- Cinema, Latin American
- Colonial Central America
- Colonial Portuguese Amazon Region, from the 17th to 18th C...
- Contemporary Maya, The
- Costa Rica
- Cárdenas and Cardenismo
- Cuban Revolution, The
- Development of Architecture in New Spain, 1500-1810, The
- Development of Painting in Peru, 1520–1820, The
- Drug Trades in Latin America
- Early Colonial Forms of Native Expression in Mexico and Pe...
- Ecuador, La Generación del 30 in
- El Salvador
- Enlightenment and its Visual Manifestations in Spanish Ame...
- Environmental History
- Era of Porfirio Díaz, 1876–1911, The
- Family History
- Film, Science Fiction
- Gender in Colonial Brazil
- Gender in Postcolonial Latin America
- Guatemala and Yucatan, Conquest of
- Guatemala City
- Haitian Revolution, The
- Health and Disease in Modern Latin America, History of
- History, Cultural
- History, Food
- Honor in Latin America to 1900
- Horror in Literature and Film in Latin America
- Human Rights in Latin America
- Immigration in Latin America
- Indigenous Elites in the Colonial Andes
- Indigenous Population and Justice System in Central Mexico...
- Japanese Presence in Latin America
- Jewish Presence in Latin America, The
- Las Casas, Bartolomé de
- Latin American Independence
- Latin American Urbanism, 1850-1950
- Law and Society in Latin America since 1800
- Legal History of New Spain, 16th-17th Centuries
- Legal History of the State and Church in 18th Century New ...
- Literature, Argentinian
- Machado de Assis
- Maroon Societies in Latin America
- Martí, José, and Cuba
- Mestizaje and the Legacy of José María Arguedas
- Mexican Revolution, 1910–1940, The
- Mexican-US Relations
- Mexico, Conquest of
- Mexico, Education in
- Migration to the United States
- Military and Modern Latin America, The
- Military Government in Latin America, 1959–1990
- Military Institution in Colonial Latin America, The
- Modern Decorative Arts and Design, 1900–2000
- Modern Populism in Latin America
- Modernity and Decoloniality
- Musical Tradition in Latin America, The
- Native Presence in Postconquest Central Peru
- New Conquest History and the New Philology in Colonial Mes...
- New Left in Latin America, The
- Novel, Chronology of the Venezuelan
- Novel of the Mexican Revolution, The
- Novel, 19th Century Haitian
- Novel, The Colombian
- Oaxaca, Conquest and Colonial
- Painting in New Spain, 1521-1820
- Paraguayan War (War of the Triple Alliance)
- Perón and Peronism
- Peru, Colonial
- Peru, Conquest of
- Peru, Slavery in
- Philippines Under Spanish Rule, 1571-1898
- Photography in the History of Race and Nation
- Political Exile in Latin America
- Popular Culture and Globalization
- Popular Movements in Nineteenth-Century Latin America
- Post Conquest Aztecs
- Post-Conquest Demographic Collapse
- Poverty in Latin America
- Preconquest Incas
- Pre-Revolutionary Mexico, State and Nation Formation in
- Printing and the Book
- Prints and the Circulation of Colonial Images
- Protestantism in Latin America
- Revolution and Reaction in Central America
- Rosas, Juan Manuel de
- Sandinista Revolution and the FSLN, The
- Science and Empire in the Iberian Atlantic
- Sexualities in Latin America and the Caribbean
- São Paulo
- Spanish and Portuguese Trade, 1500–1750
- Spanish Caribbean In The Colonial Period, The
- Spanish Colonial Decorative Arts, 1500-1825
- Spanish Florida
- Textile Traditions of the Andes
- 16th-Century New Spain
- Transculturation and Literature
- Trujillo, Rafael
- Tupac Amaru Rebellion, The
- United States and Castro's Cuba in the Cold War, The
- United States and the Guatemalan Revolution, The
- United States Invasion of the Dominican Republic, 1961–196...
- Urban History
- Urbanization in the 20th Century, Latin America’s
- U.S.-Latin American Relations During the Cold War
- Vargas, Getúlio
- Women and Labor in 20th-Century Latin America
- Women in Colonial Latin American History
- Women in Modern Latin American History
- Zapatista Rebellion in Chiapas