Julia Sweig’s new book on Cuba, Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know, is drawing universal praise in advance of its publication in June, in part because it is the sort of introductory book needed at a time of growing curiosity about the island and its future relationship to the United States. Sweig, the Nelson and David Rockefeller Senior Fellow for Latin American Studies and Director for Latin American Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, has written, according to her colleagues at the Council, “a concise and remarkably accessible portrait of the small island nation’s unique place on the world stage over the past fifty years.” It is an opinion shared by the Los Angeles Times, which calls the book “an excellent and refreshingly evenhanded primer.”
The book opens with a description of the dynamics set in motion by Fidel Castro’s transfer of power to his brother Raúl in the summer of 2006 before returning to the Cuban War of Independence of 1895 and the Spanish-American War of 1898 for an understanding of the path that has brought Cuba to its present quandary. This is a path that, as Sweig shows, has been inextricably linked to its relationship to the United States, which restricted Cuba’s sovereignty until the Revolution in 1959 and has hindered that Revolution through its embargo and other policies since then.
The new book is part of Oxford University Press’ ‘ “What Everyone Needs to Know” series, and it follows a question-and-answer format that allows it to incorporate a lot of complex history into clearly defined questions, seeking to explain “why the Cuban revolution, battered as it might be, has outlasted the Cold War, nine U.S. presidents and even the decades-long presidency of Castro. “
Sweig is also the author of Friendly Fire: Losing Friends and Making Enemies in the Anti-American Century (2006), Andes 2020: A New Strategy for the Challenges of Colombia and the Region, A Center for Preventive Action Report (2004), Inside the Cuban Revolution: Fidel Castro and the Urban Underground (2002), and U.S.-Cuban Relations in the 21st Century, A Follow-On Chairman’s Report, Report of an Independent Task Force (2001).
For the Lost Angeles Times review go to http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/arts/la-ca-julia-sweig24-2009may24,0,5097015.story
For the announcement at the Council for Foreign Policy go to http://www.cfr.org/publication/19379/