History Department
History Department

IHS Book Talk: "Cuba’s Revolutionary World" by Jonathan C. Brown, University of Texas at Austin (History Faculty New Book Talk)

Thu, December 6, 2018 | GAR 4.100

3:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Please note that the time of this event has been updated to begin at 3:30pm, and will conclude at 4:30pm. Apologies for any inconvenience.

The History Faculty New Book Series presents:

Cuba’s Revolutionary World
(Harvard University Press, April 2017)

A book talk and discussion with
Jonathan C. Brown
Professor of History
University of Texas at Austin
Dr. Brown's faculty profile page

On January 2, 1959, Fidel Castro, the rebel comandante who had just overthrown Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, addressed a crowd of jubilant supporters. Recalling the failed popular uprisings of past decades, Castro assured them that this time “the real Revolution” had arrived. As Jonathan Brown shows in this capacious history of the Cuban Revolution, Castro’s words proved prophetic not only for his countrymen but for Latin America and the wider world.

Cuba’s Revolutionary World examines in forensic detail how the turmoil that rocked a small Caribbean nation in the 1950s became one of the twentieth century’s most transformative events. Initially, Castro’s revolution augured well for democratic reform movements gaining traction in Latin America. But what had begun promisingly veered off course as Castro took a heavy hand in efforts to centralize Cuba’s economy and stamp out private enterprise. Embracing the Soviet Union as an ally, Castro and his lieutenant Che Guevara sought to export the socialist revolution abroad through armed insurrection.

Castro’s provocations inspired intense opposition. Cuban anticommunists who had fled to Miami found a patron in the CIA, which actively supported their efforts to topple Castro’s regime. The unrest fomented by Cuban-trained leftist guerrillas lent support to Latin America’s military castes, who promised to restore stability. Brazil was the first to succumb to a coup in 1964; a decade later, military juntas governed most Latin American states. Thus did a revolution that had seemed to signal the death knell of dictatorship in Latin America bring about its tragic opposite.

“Jonathan Brown has written a valuable, information-packed book that is refreshingly free of ideological baggage… The book is a stunning reminder of how deeply divided Latin America was in the 1960s, when so many young revolutionaries voluntarily risked their lives, and where military regimes took over brutally to repress them.”
—David Gallagher, The Times Literary Supplement

“Brown is convincing that the Cuban-trained and -inspired guerrillas posed a challenge for democracies in Latin America that was difficult for their elected leaders to solve and that, as a result, created conditions favorable for the right to take dictatorial control… [This book] adds in important ways to our understanding of the world that Cuba created.”
—Patrick Iber, The Nation

“Offers keen insights into how the John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson administrations dealt with [Latin American] national movements. At times, this history puts readers in the same room with leaders from all sides, offering a front-row seat to diplomatic efforts intended to thwart the spread of communism and revolutionary movements in Latin America… Brown’s well-written book makes for a highly immersive and engaging read.”
—Boyd Childress, Library Journal

“Brown’s path-breaking book carefully reconstructs virtually unknown episodes of the Cuban revolution and counterrevolution, illuminating the ‘secret wars’ of subversion, sabotage, guerrilla training, and paramilitary expeditions that shook the region in the 1960s. Briskly written, meticulously researched, and sweeping in scope, this book will be required reading for anyone interested in the Cuban Revolution and its impact throughout Latin America.”
—Michelle Chase, author of Revolution within the Revolution

“As in the best works of history, Brown renders vividly real the various figures who appear in his pages—statesman and rogue, patriot and scoundrel. His book is both a good read and an impressive work of scholarship, shedding light on an important question: when does the effect of U.S. policy acquire a life of its own, independent of the original intentions of policymakers?”
—Jorge I. Domínguez, coeditor of Social Policies and Decentralization in Cuba

“Brown adds rich detail to the international ripples of the Cuban Revolution, often in lively prose. It is fascinating to see how interrelated Latin American revolutionaries were, popping up in several national stories, and equally captivating to see how influential Cuba was.”
—Alan McPherson, author of Yankee No!

Jonathan C. Brown is Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is an active member of the #1-ranked Latin American History program. In addition to Cuba's Revolutionary World, he’s published four other single-authored books: A Socioeconomic History of Argentina, 1776-1860 (1979); Oil and Revolution in Mexico (1993), Latin America: A Social History of the Colonial Period (2nd ed., 2005), and A Brief History of Argentina (2nd ed., 2009). Two of these books have been translated and published in Latin America. His first book on Argentina, published by Cambridge University Press, won the Bolton Prize. Brown also edited a collection of essays on workers and populism in Latin America and co-edited books on the Mexican oil industry and on Argentine social history. Professor Brown is currently working on two new projects: a textbook comparing and contrasting the three revolutions of modern Cuba, the Independence Revolution of 1895 and the two armed insurrections culminating in 1933 and 1959, and his longer term research examining the international campaign waged by General Omar Torrijos of Panama to force Washington to renegotiate the Canal Treaty of 1903.  Having seized power through a coup d'etat in 1968, he finally signed a new treaty with President Carter in 1977.  Control of the Canal Zone reverted completely to Panama on the first day of the new millenium, January 1, 1959. Like Moses, General Torrijos never made it to the 'promised land.'  He died in a plane crash just four years after signing the new treaty.

Please RSVP to cmeador@austin.utexas.edu to reserve your seat and receive a copy of the reading selection to be discussed. This discussion is part of the IHS' History Faculty New Book Talk Series.

Sponsored by: Institute for Historical Studies in the Department of History

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