The Cuban Revolution
- LAST REVIEWED: 05 May 2017
- LAST MODIFIED: 24 May 2018
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766581-0027
- LAST REVIEWED: 05 May 2017
- LAST MODIFIED: 24 May 2018
- 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 2015 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 a 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.
Brown, Jonathan C. Cuba’s Revolutionary World. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017.
An examination of the far-reaching changes wrought by the Cuban Revolution within Cuba, the phases of the counterrevolutionary responses, and the reverberations of the revolution in Latin America, both in inspiring the expansion of guerrilla movement and provoking the rise of right-wing governments.
Chomsky, Aviva. A History of the Cuban Revolution. 2d ed. Hoboken: John Wiley, 2015.
An updated edition of Chomsky’s survey history of Cuba, first published in 2010, set within a larger international context. Emphasis is given to political economy, with specific attention given to the post-1959 period and updated to the early years of the government of Raúl Castro, and addressing a diverse range of subjects, including early US-Cuba relations, gender, religion, gender, sexuality, rectification, and the normalization of relations following December 2014.
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.
Farber, Samuel. Cuba Since the Revolution of 1959: A Critical Assessment. Chicago: Haymarket, 2011.
A critique of the Cuban Revolution, assessing the successes and the failures of the revolutionary project. Attention is given to themes of national sovereignty, economic development, and the expansion (and contraction) of democratic spaces within Cuba.
Gold, Marina. People and State in Socialist Cuba: Ideas and Practices of Revolution. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.
An examination of the meaning of the Cuban Revolution as a facet of urban life as lived, with attention to urban agriculture, private enterprises, and alternative medicine.
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.
Kapcia, Antoni. Leadership in the Cuban Revolution: The Unseen Story. London: Zed Books, 2014.
A welcome corrective to the attention that has centered on the leadership of Fidel Castro. Attention is given to the character of collective leadership in the realms of policy decision-making processes. Particularly useful is the chronological framework, in which changing political and economic environments are reflected in a corresponding change in the culture of leadership.
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.
Martínez Fernández, Luis. Revolutionary Cuba: A History. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2014.
A sweeping historical survey of the Cuban Revolution, spanning the 1950s through 2010s. Organized in chronological fashion, which allows for an assessment of the sequence of phases of the programs and policies—both domestic and foreign—that constitute the successes and the failures of the revolution.
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.
- Agricultural Technologies
- Ancient Andean Textiles
- Andean Contributions to Rethinking the State and the Natio...
- Andean Music
- Antislavery Narratives
- Arab Diaspora in Brazil, The
- 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
- Atlantic Creoles
- 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 New Granada
- Colonial Portuguese Amazon Region, from the 17th to 18th C...
- Contemporary Maya, The
- Costa Rica
- Cárdenas and Cardenismo
- Cuban Revolution, The
- Dependency Theory in Latin American History
- Development of Architecture in New Spain, 1500–1810, The
- Development of Painting in Peru, 1520–1820, The
- Drug Trades in Latin America
- Dutch in South America and the Caribbean, The
- Early Colonial Forms of Native Expression in Mexico and Pe...
- Economies from Independence to Industrialization
- 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
- Football (Soccer) in Latin America
- Gaucho Literature
- Gender in Colonial Brazil
- Gender in Postcolonial Latin America
- Guaraní and Their Legacy, The
- Guatemala and Yucatan, Conquest of
- Guatemala City
- Guatemala (Colonial Period)
- Guatemala (Modern & National Period)
- 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...
- Indigenous Voices in Literature
- Japanese Presence in Latin America
- Jewish Presence in Latin America, The
- José María Arguedas and Early 21st Century Cultural and Po...
- 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
- Magical Realism
- Maroon Societies in Latin America
- Martí, José, and Cuba
- Mestizaje and the Legacy of José María Arguedas
- Mexican Nationalism
- 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)
- Pastoralism in the Andes
- Paz, Octavio
- 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 19th-Century Latin America
- Post Conquest Aztecs
- Post-Conquest Demographic Collapse
- Poverty in Latin America
- Preconquest Incas
- Pre-conquest Mesoamerican States, The
- Pre-Revolutionary Mexico, State and Nation Formation in
- Printing and the Book
- Prints and the Circulation of Colonial Images
- Protestantism in Latin America
- Puerto Rican Literature
- Religions in Latin America
- Revolution and Reaction in Central America
- Rosas, Juan Manuel de
- Sandinista Revolution and the FSLN, The
- Santo Domingo
- Science and Empire in the Iberian Atlantic
- Sexualities in Latin America and the Caribbean
- Slavery in Brazil
- São Paulo
- Spanish American Arab Literature
- Spanish and Portuguese Trade, 1500–1750
- Spanish Caribbean In The Colonial Period, The
- Spanish Colonial Decorative Arts, 1500-1825
- Spanish Florida
- Spiritual Conquest of Latin America, The
- Telenovelas and Melodrama in Latin America
- 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
- Venezuelan Literature
- Women and Labor in 20th-Century Latin America
- Women in Colonial Latin American History
- Women in Modern Latin American History
- Zapatista Rebellion in Chiapas