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M A R C H 2 0 1 2 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L
69
region, such as Chile, Brazil, Peru and
Mexico, have also reduced poverty sig-
nificantly without following the Cuban
model.
Though Gedda covers the basics
very well, the book thins in the later
chapters. He should have devoted
more space to the Cuban diaspora in
Florida and its large impact in Wash-
ington. I would also have liked to see
more discussion of the country’s suc-
cesses in the arts and sports, such as the
impact of Cubans on major league
baseball. At the same time, his com-
parison of Cuban non-commercial
baseball (played like U.S. college ball)
with how we and the rest of the world
do it is fun even if you’re not a fan.
Overall, the book’s balanced, nu-
anced approach probably will not sat-
isfy anyone whose views of Cuba are ei-
ther black or white. But few if any an-
alysts can match Gedda in his array of
sources, or the humanity and sensitivity
he brings to the subject.
If
Cuba: The Audacious Revolution
has one overarching theme, it would be
the lasting effects of what has hap-
pened during the past 50 years of bilat-
eral relations. As Gedda reminds us,
we must remember the lessons of his-
tory as we deal with the present and
prepare for the future. (It calls to mind
the dictum regarding U.S.-Mexican re-
lations: “Mexicans never forget history
and Americans never remember it.”)
His people-focused approach, cou-
pled with descriptions of how the
Cuban system works (and doesn’t) and
explanation of the large issues con-
fronting the country makes
Cuba: The
Audacious Revolution
a great introduc-
tion to Cuba for non-experts. Yet it is
also filled with stories and insights for
specialists to ponder. In short, it is a
fascinating book about this fascinating,
if vexing country.
John Maisto is a retired Senior Foreign
Service officer who served as U.S. am-
bassador to Nicaragua, Venezuela and
the Organization of American States,
and as senior Western Hemisphere di-
rector at the National Security Coun-
cil, among many other postings.
He currently consults, speaks, writes,
is on the boards of two international stu-
dent exchange organizations and chairs
the Board of Advisers of the American
Commitees on Foreign Relations.
B
O O K S