Weaving together the historical, social and political influences that shaped Cuba since the middle of last century, UCF history professor Luis Martinez-Fernandez has released a narrative and interpretative history of the country’s revolution to the current transformations initiated by President Raúl Castro.
“Revolutionary Cuba” examines the rebellion that started in 1952, the Soviet influence through the years, and the struggle to survive after the collapse of the USSR in the 1990s.
As publisher University Press of Florida says in its promotional materials, Martinez-Fernandez’ work is a “survey of the history and themes of the socialist revolution that forever changed Cuba and the world.”
The author said such a comprehensive history of the revolution is long overdue, and what makes his study different is its balanced approach of the subject that has been a hot potato.
“Academic studies of the revolution have been mostly praiseful of the revolution and have failed to denounce its shortcomings and failures,” he said. “What makes this study new, different and unique is its fair and honest approach. At the same time it recognizes the social accomplishments of the revolution during its early years and sheds light on its failure, particularly over the last 20 years years. Precisely for this reason, it will likely enrage extremists at both ends of the political spectrum.”
Martinez-Fernandez said there have been just a handful of scholars who have looked at the entire sweep of the revolution and the interconnectedness of various aspects of that history.
“The history of the revolution is an extraordinarily controversial and politicized field of study,” he said.
“The body of works on the revolution is also polarized, with one pole holding a romantic view of the revolution and its leaders; the other pole passionately critical of the revolution.”
The book also analyzes U.S. policy in the context of the past 55 years.
“Until U.S. policy makers realize that bullying will not work against Cuba and its people, a policy of mutual respect is necessary for any significant improvement,” he said.
Martinez-Fernanadez has been at UCF since 2004 and teaches Cuban history. His research interests are Latin America, the Caribbean, Cuba and Puerto Rico, and Latinos in the United States. He also previously served as senior editor of Encyclopedia of Cuba: People, History, Culture.
This historical assessment is a remarkable achievement, said Jorge Duany, author of “Blurred Borders: “It is “the most comprehensive, synthetic, and systematic appraisal of the Cuban Revolution to date.”
“Revolutionary Cuba” can be ordered from University Press of Florida at http://upf.com/book.asp?id=MARTI004, Amazon and other online vendors.