Pub. Date:
Oxford University Press, USA
Contesting Castro: The United States and the Triumph of the Cuban Revolution

Contesting Castro: The United States and the Triumph of the Cuban Revolution

by Thomas G. Paterson
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Today they stand as enemies, but in the 1950s, few countries were as closely intertwined as Cuba and the United States. Thousands of Americans (including Ernest Hemingway and Errol Flynn) lived on the island, and, in the United States, dancehalls swayed to the mambo beat. The strong-arm Batista regime depended on Washington's support, and it invited American gangsters like Meyer Lansky to build fancy casinos for U.S. tourists. Major league scouts searched for Cuban talent: The New York Giants even offered a contract to a young pitcher named Fidel Castro. In 1955, Castro did come to the United States, but not for baseball: He toured the country to raise money for a revolution.
Thomas Paterson tells the fascinating story of Castro's insurrection, from that early fund-raising trip to Batista's fall and the flowering of the Cuban Revolution that has bedeviled the United States for more than three decades. With evocative prose and a swift-moving narrative, Paterson recreates the love-hate relationship between the two nations, then traces the intrigue of the insurgency, the unfolding revolution, and the sources of the Bay of Pigs invasion, CIA assassination plots, and the missile crisis. The drama ranges from the casino blackjack tables to Miami streets; from the Eisenhower and Kennedy White Houses to the crowded deck of the Granma, the frail boat that carried the Fidelistas to Cuba from Mexico; from Batista's fortified palace to mountain hideouts where Rau'l Castro held American hostages. Drawing upon impressive international research, including declassified CIA documents and interviews, Paterson reveals how Washington, fixed on the issue of Communism, failed to grasp the widespread disaffection from Batista. The Eisenhower administration alienated Cubans by supplying arms to a hated regime, by sustaining Cuba's economic dependence, and by conspicuously backing Batista. As Batista self-destructed, U.S. officials launched third-force conspiracies in a vain attempt to block Castro's victory. By the time the defiant revolutionary leader entered Havana in early 1959, the foundation of the long, bitter hostility between Cuba and the United States had been firmly laid.
Since the end of the Cold War, the futures of Communist Cuba and Fidel Castro have become clouded. Paterson's gripping and timely account explores the origins of America's troubled relationship with its island neighbor, explains what went wrong and how the United States "let this one get away," and suggests paths to the future as the Clinton administration inches toward less hostile relations with a changing Cuba.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780195101201
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date: 10/12/1995
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 1,218,620
Product dimensions: 8.00(w) x 5.38(h) x 0.74(d)

About the Author

Thomas G. Paterson is Professor of History at the University of Connecticut. He is the author or editor of more than a dozen books, including On Every Front: The Making and Unmaking of the Cold War, Kennedy's Quest for Victory, and the popular textbook A People and a Nation.

Table of Contents

Introduction: A Puzzling Matter 3(12)
I Binding the Cuban-American Relationship at Mid-Century
Dependecies: Batista, Castro, and the United States
Confusionist Cubanism: The Political Mess Before Granma
Sugar, North American Business, and Other Bittersweets
Curve Balls, Casinos, and Cuban-American Culture
Supplying Repression: Military, CIA, and FBI Links
II Confronting the Insurrection
Thunderstorms: Castro's Granma Rebels and the Matthews Interview
Ambassador Gardner and the Propaganda War
Violence Victorious: Ambassador Smith Meets the Rebellion
Expanding Contact with the Rebels
Taking Sides: Arms, Arrests, and Elections
III Riding the Tiger to Defeat
Batista's Self-destruction and the Suspension of Arms
Terrible Mood: Castro and the General Strike
Operation Fin de Fidel and U.S. Weapons: Anti-Americanism Ascendant
Rocket Heads, Kidnappers, and the Castros
Frankenstein, Texaco, Nicaro, and a Toughened Attitude
Burning Up the Wires: The Quest for Communists and Arms
IV Dumping the Dictator, Blocking the Rebel
A Pox on Both Their Houses
Batista Dismissed: Pawley's Plot and Smith's Blow
U.S. Third-Force Conspiracies and Batista's Flight
Madhouse: Castro's Victory, Smith's Defeat
V Losing a Client
A Complete Break: How Did the United States Let This One Get Away?
Failing the Tests: The United States and Cuba in the Castro Era
Notes 264(55)
Sources 319(18)
Index 337

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