Cuba: An American History

To study Cuba’s history is to study the United States’ history. Ada Ferrer, author and historian, demonstrates the intricate links that have existed between these two countries for centuries in her new epic history, Cuba: An American History.

Christopher Columbus, according to legend, found America in 1492. However, he made no discoveries in the United States; he arrived in Cuba, which was already heavily populated. Columbus and his soldiers massacred the majority of the indigenous people and, with the support of Spain, established an economy based on enslaved labor to produce sugar, tobacco, and rum.

Columbus’s mistaken identification of Cuba as India ushered in Spain’s centuries-long reign of imperial dominance—with Havana, Cuba, at the epicenter. Havana was the third-largest metropolis in the New World by the 18th century. Britain and France desired possession of Cuba in order to eliminate Spain’s colonial dominance, as well as for its strategic location in the Caribbean, military fortifications, and natural resources. Meanwhile, as England’s North American possessions expanded, the emerging United States reaped significant benefits from Cuba’s economy. Cuba eventually backed the United States’ war against Britain as a result of their symbiotic connection.

Spain’s dominance over the Americas diminished throughout time, particularly following the Seven Years War and the Spanish-American War. Ferrer’s revised, more nuanced account of these conflicts’ events will provide a new perspective on history you thought you knew. While the narrative is sometimes reduced as “the United States saved Cuba,” Ferrer’s examination of the Spanish-American War frames it as the turning point in the two nations’ ties.

Cuba is divided into 12 sections and is illustrated with breathtaking historical pictures and graphics. It spans more than five centuries of intricate and vibrant history. Although the majority of the book is devoted to the upheaval and chaos of the twentieth century, Ferrer is an exceptionally thorough guide to the fifteenth century and beyond, taking care to maintain her readers’ interest through intriguing characters, new perspectives on historical events, and dramatic yet approachable writing. This new history of Cuba demonstrates how inextricably linked the histories of all of our countries are.

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