100 books like Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba

By Tom Gjelten,

Here are 100 books that Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba fans have personally recommended if you like Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Enslaving Spirits: The Portuguese-Brazilian Alcohol Trade at Luanda and Its Hinterland, C. 1550-1830

David Carey Jr. Author Of Distilling the Influence of Alcohol: Aguardiente in Guatemalan History

From my list on alcohol in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Why am I passionate about this?

Raised on happy hours on Cape Cod, MA patios with my Irish-American relatives, I long have been fascinated by how alcohol can bring people together and facilitate bonds that traverse both hardship and joy. During my travels and research in Mexico, Chile, Peru, Guatemala, and Ecuador, I observed how alcohol could both render families asunder and unite communities. As addiction makes clear, alcohol could hold tremendous power over individuals. But it also marked the identities of even the most casual drinkers. Throughout my research on other topics—crime, gender, medicine—alcohol consistently emerges as a crucial avenue of inquiry. The books listed below offer innovative and insightful ways of centering alcohol in scholarly narratives. 

David's book list on alcohol in Latin America and the Caribbean

David Carey Jr. Why did David love this book?

By exploring the intertwined transatlantic trades of enslaved Africans and alcohol, Curto reveals how Latin American libations bested European stock in ways that altered the course of history.

West Africans’ taste for Brazilian cachaça (sugarcane brandy) dislodged Portuguese wine and liquor facilitating Brazilian merchants’ dominance in Western Africa and spawning a vibrant trade based out of Luanda. What impressed me most about this book was how Curto turned conventional wisdom on its head by demonstrating how a Latin American nation shaped trade and tastes across the globe.

Portuguese efforts to regain their privileged trading position by outlawing the sale of cachaça in Africa failed. The direct trade between Africa and Brazil that alcohol facilitated challenges traditional descriptions of the transatlantic triangle trade. 

By José C. Curto,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Enslaving Spirits as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This volume deals with imported alcohol at Luanda and its hinterland, where it was heavily used to acquire captives for the Atlantic slave trade. Aside from highlighting the complexities of this singular economic component of Atlantic slaving, its focus on changing West -Central African alcohol consumption patterns through the importation of foreign intoxicants reveals an important element of the social history of African societies before the modern colonial period.


Book cover of ¡Tequila! Distilling the Spirit of Mexico

David Carey Jr. Author Of Distilling the Influence of Alcohol: Aguardiente in Guatemalan History

From my list on alcohol in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Why am I passionate about this?

Raised on happy hours on Cape Cod, MA patios with my Irish-American relatives, I long have been fascinated by how alcohol can bring people together and facilitate bonds that traverse both hardship and joy. During my travels and research in Mexico, Chile, Peru, Guatemala, and Ecuador, I observed how alcohol could both render families asunder and unite communities. As addiction makes clear, alcohol could hold tremendous power over individuals. But it also marked the identities of even the most casual drinkers. Throughout my research on other topics—crime, gender, medicine—alcohol consistently emerges as a crucial avenue of inquiry. The books listed below offer innovative and insightful ways of centering alcohol in scholarly narratives. 

David's book list on alcohol in Latin America and the Caribbean

David Carey Jr. Why did David love this book?

With clear and engaging prose, Gaytan reveals the power dynamics that shaped tequila’s trajectory in Mexico and abroad.

She traces tequila’s meteoric rise past other agave-derived drinks like pulque and mezcal. I really appreciate how she approaches her study as a sociologist but does not eschew history in her analysis. Although ancient Mayas were among the first to produce and consume tequila, its association with modernity can be attributed, in part, to modern marketers disassociating tequila from indigenous inebriation.

Even as she firmly grounds tequila in lo Mexicano or being Mexican, Gaytan also explores tequila’s influence and popularity in the United States. Her book reminded me how different my experience of drinking tequila in the United States has been from my enjoyment of tequila in cantinas in Mexico. 

By Marie Sarita Gaytán,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked ¡Tequila! Distilling the Spirit of Mexico as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Italy has grappa, Russia has vodka, Jamaica has rum. Around the world, certain drinks-especially those of the intoxicating kind-are synonymous with their peoples and cultures. For Mexico, this drink is tequila. For many, tequila can conjure up scenes of body shots on Cancun bars and coolly garnished margaritas on sandy beaches. Its power is equally strong within Mexico, though there the drink is more often sipped rather than shot, enjoyed casually among friends, and used to commemorate occasions from the everyday to the sacred. Despite these competing images, tequila is universally regarded as an enduring symbol of lo mexicano.

!Tequila!…


Book cover of José Martí: A Revolutionary Life

Ilan Ehrlich Author Of Eduardo Chibás: The Incorrigible Man of Cuban Politics

From my list on biographies peeking into the lives of Cuban people.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was weaned on Cuban stories by my Havana-born mother and first visited the island in 1998. Since then, I earned a PhD in history from the Graduate Center, City University of New York–where I studied twentieth-century Cuban politics. While conducting research in Havana and Miami, I confirmed that legends were imbibed with the same fervor as café cubano. All histories are marked by tall tales, but Cubans are governed by theirs, inside and out, more than most. 

Ilan's book list on biographies peeking into the lives of Cuban people

Ilan Ehrlich Why did Ilan love this book?

José Martí is Cuba’s secular saint who represents all things to all Cubans. He was the idol of Cuba’s first generation to come of age in independent Cuba, during the 1920s, who were taught he was a Christ-like figure who sacrificed himself for Cuban independence. Fulgencio Batista adored him, Fidel Castro revered him, and anti-communist Cuban exiles worshiped him. Even so, Martí was largely unknown on the island during his lifetime and at the time of his death in 1895. This biography of Martí depicts him as a human as well as a hero. 

By Alfred J. López,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked José Martí as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jose Marti (1853-1895) was the founding hero of Cuban independence. In all of modern Latin American history, arguably only the "Great Liberator" Simon Bolivar rivals Marti in stature and legacy. Beyond his accomplishments as a revolutionary and political thinker, Marti was a giant of Latin American letters, whose poetry, essays, and journalism still rank among the most important works of the region. Today he is revered by both the Castro regime and the Cuban exile community, whose shared veneration of the "apostle" of freedom has led to his virtual apotheosis as a national saint.

In Jose Marti: A Revolutionary Life,…


Book cover of Fulgencio Batista: From Revolutionary to Strongman

Ilan Ehrlich Author Of Eduardo Chibás: The Incorrigible Man of Cuban Politics

From my list on biographies peeking into the lives of Cuban people.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was weaned on Cuban stories by my Havana-born mother and first visited the island in 1998. Since then, I earned a PhD in history from the Graduate Center, City University of New York–where I studied twentieth-century Cuban politics. While conducting research in Havana and Miami, I confirmed that legends were imbibed with the same fervor as café cubano. All histories are marked by tall tales, but Cubans are governed by theirs, inside and out, more than most. 

Ilan's book list on biographies peeking into the lives of Cuban people

Ilan Ehrlich Why did Ilan love this book?

Fulgencio Batista is an all-purpose villain in post-1959 Cuba. On the island, he is portrayed as a corrupt and bloody despot who ignored prostitution in towns, desperation in the countryside, and gave free reign to U.S. companies, American tourists, and the mafia. Cuban exiles, many of whom prospered during his rule, see things differently. Cuba counted a large middle class, access to American cars and radios, and one of the highest literacy rates in Latin America. Argote-Freyre’s biography adds much-needed complexity. Batista was a self-made man, born in poverty, and racially mixed. He rose to a  position of power via smarts, cunning, and ruthlessness but also preserved legal gains for workers, and used the military to provide educational and medical services for poor Cubans. 

By Frank Argote-Freyre,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fulgencio Batista as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Pawn of the U.S. government. Right-hand man to the mob. Iron-fisted dictator. For decades, public understanding of the pre-Revolutionary Cuban dictator ""Fulgencio Batista"" has been limited to these stereotypes. While on some level they all contain an element of truth, these superficial characterizations barely scratch the surface of the complex and compelling career of this important political figure. Second only to Fidel Castro, Batista is the most controversial leader in modern Cuban history. And yet, until now, there has been no objective biography written about him. Existing biographical literature is predominantly polemical and either borders on hero worship or launches…


Book cover of Give Me Liberty: The True Story of Oswaldo Payá and his Daring Quest for a Free Cuba

Ilan Ehrlich Author Of Eduardo Chibás: The Incorrigible Man of Cuban Politics

From my list on biographies peeking into the lives of Cuban people.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was weaned on Cuban stories by my Havana-born mother and first visited the island in 1998. Since then, I earned a PhD in history from the Graduate Center, City University of New York–where I studied twentieth-century Cuban politics. While conducting research in Havana and Miami, I confirmed that legends were imbibed with the same fervor as café cubano. All histories are marked by tall tales, but Cubans are governed by theirs, inside and out, more than most. 

Ilan's book list on biographies peeking into the lives of Cuban people

Ilan Ehrlich Why did Ilan love this book?

To some, Cuba is a plucky, embargo-defying success story, with top educational and medical systems – the latter of which ensures Cubans live longer on average than Americans. Hoffman’s biography of Oswaldo Payá lays bare the regime’s darkest depths. As a young man, Payá was harassed and persecuted for his Catholic faith. He later devised the Varela Project, which sought to legally change Cuba’s 1976 constitution and allow democratic freedoms. Payá remained an outspoken critic of Cuba’s one-party state and refused to leave despite constant threats from state security agents. In 2012, they ran his car off the road and he was killed in the ensuing crash.  

By David E. Hoffman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Give Me Liberty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the Pulitzer Prize–winning Washington Post reporter David E. Hoffman comes the riveting biography of Oswaldo Payá, a dissident who dared to defy Fidel Castro, inspiring thousands of Cubans to fight for democracy.

Oswaldo Payá was seven years old when Fidel Castro seized power in Cuba, promising to create a “free, democratic, and just Cuba.” But Castro instead created an authoritarian regime with little tolerance of free speech or thought. His secret police were trained to crush dissent by East Germany’s ruthless Stasi.

Throughout Cuba’s 20th century history, the dream of democracy was often just within reach, only to be…


Book cover of Our Rightful Share: The Afro-Cuban Struggle for Equality, 1886-1912

Ilan Ehrlich Author Of Eduardo Chibás: The Incorrigible Man of Cuban Politics

From my list on biographies peeking into the lives of Cuban people.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was weaned on Cuban stories by my Havana-born mother and first visited the island in 1998. Since then, I earned a PhD in history from the Graduate Center, City University of New York–where I studied twentieth-century Cuban politics. While conducting research in Havana and Miami, I confirmed that legends were imbibed with the same fervor as café cubano. All histories are marked by tall tales, but Cubans are governed by theirs, inside and out, more than most. 

Ilan's book list on biographies peeking into the lives of Cuban people

Ilan Ehrlich Why did Ilan love this book?

This is only a biography in the loosest sense, one of Afro-Cubans from the year slavery was abolished until an ugly racial massacre that claimed thousands of innocent victims. In 1892, José Martí famously declared that “There is no racial hatred because there are no races.” The following year he wrongly predicted that “In Cuba, there will never be a racial war.” Cuba’s independence myth was founded on the idea that there would be no white or black Cubans, only Cubans. Yet in 1912, two Afro-Cuban politicians, Pedro Ivonet and Evaristo Estenoz, both veterans of Cuba’s independence struggle, some of their followers, and thousands of Afro-Cubans in the wrong place at the wrong time, were massacred in a frenzy of racial hatred.

By Aline Helg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Our Rightful Share as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Our Rightful Share , Aline Helg examines the issue of race in Cuban society, politics, and ideology during the island's transition from a Spanish colony to an independent state. She challenges Cuba's well-established myth of racial equality and shows that racism is deeply rooted in Cuban creole society. Helg argues that despite Cuba's abolition of slavery in 1886 and its winning of independence in 1902, Afro-Cubans remained marginalized in all aspects of society. After the wars for independence, in which they fought en masse, Afro-Cubans demanded change politically by forming the first national black party in the Western Hemisphere.…


Book cover of Drinking, Homicide and Rebellion in Colonial Mexican Villages

David Carey Jr. Author Of Distilling the Influence of Alcohol: Aguardiente in Guatemalan History

From my list on alcohol in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Why am I passionate about this?

Raised on happy hours on Cape Cod, MA patios with my Irish-American relatives, I long have been fascinated by how alcohol can bring people together and facilitate bonds that traverse both hardship and joy. During my travels and research in Mexico, Chile, Peru, Guatemala, and Ecuador, I observed how alcohol could both render families asunder and unite communities. As addiction makes clear, alcohol could hold tremendous power over individuals. But it also marked the identities of even the most casual drinkers. Throughout my research on other topics—crime, gender, medicine—alcohol consistently emerges as a crucial avenue of inquiry. The books listed below offer innovative and insightful ways of centering alcohol in scholarly narratives. 

David's book list on alcohol in Latin America and the Caribbean

David Carey Jr. Why did David love this book?

Revealing a relationship between alcohol, violent crime and rebellion, this book pioneered historical studies of alcohol.

I love the way Taylor uses alcohol as a lens through which to think about the past. Examining the social meanings of alcohol, he demonstrates how the beverages one drank helped to determine their identity. Indigenous consumers who turned to alcohol to temporarily escape their plight and privations also played upon colonial Spaniards’ assumptions about their penchant for alcoholism to subvert colonial rule.

Among the first to study governments’ contradictory goals of controlling inebriation and profiting from the alcohol economy, Taylor reveals the complex roles that alcohol played in colonial Mexico. His approach and insight inspired and informed my pursuit of the influence of alcohol in Guatemalan history. 

By William B. Taylor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Drinking, Homicide and Rebellion in Colonial Mexican Villages as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This study analyzes the impact of Spanish rule on Indian peasant identity in the late colonial period by investigating three areas of social behavior. Based on the criminal trial records and related documents from the regions of central Mexico and Oaxaca, it attempts to discover how peasants conceived of their role under Spanish rule, how they behaved under various kinds of street, and how they felt about their Spanish overlords. In examining the character of village uprisings, typical relationships between killers and the people they killed, and the drinking patterns of the late colonial period, the author finds no warrant…


Book cover of Caribbean Rum: A Social and Economic History

David Carey Jr. Author Of Distilling the Influence of Alcohol: Aguardiente in Guatemalan History

From my list on alcohol in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Why am I passionate about this?

Raised on happy hours on Cape Cod, MA patios with my Irish-American relatives, I long have been fascinated by how alcohol can bring people together and facilitate bonds that traverse both hardship and joy. During my travels and research in Mexico, Chile, Peru, Guatemala, and Ecuador, I observed how alcohol could both render families asunder and unite communities. As addiction makes clear, alcohol could hold tremendous power over individuals. But it also marked the identities of even the most casual drinkers. Throughout my research on other topics—crime, gender, medicine—alcohol consistently emerges as a crucial avenue of inquiry. The books listed below offer innovative and insightful ways of centering alcohol in scholarly narratives. 

David's book list on alcohol in Latin America and the Caribbean

David Carey Jr. Why did David love this book?

Smith traces the historical arc of rum from local colonial consumption to becoming a major export by the nineteenth century.

I am amazed at how much history Smith captures by focusing his study on one type of alcohol. With his attention to how European and African drinking habits shaped rum consumption, he demonstrates how rum cut across gender, class, and race relations.

With their knowledge of distillation and introduction of resources new to the Americas, Europeans increased alcohol’s potency. Alcohol took on political as well as economic significance when colonial officials used alcohol revenue to govern. Without displacing fermented drinks, distilled liquor introduced new dynamics in the production and consumption of alcohol.

I love that he emphasizes how common consumption spurred taverns and other drinking establishments, which facilitated socialization that frequently contravened social norms, such as elite men who conversed with poor and working-class women and African and mulatto drinkers…

By Frederick H. Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Caribbean Rum as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Christopher Columbus brought sugarcane to the New World on his second voyage. By 1520 commercial sugar production was underway in the Caribbean, along with the perfection of methods to ferment and distill alcohol from sugarcane to produce a new beverage that would have dramatic impact on the region. Caribbean Rum presents the fascinating cultural, economic, and ethnographic history of rum in the Caribbean from the colonial period to the present.

Drawing on data from historical archaeology and the economic history of the Caribbean, Frederick Smith explains why this industry arose in the islands, how attitudes toward alcohol consumption have impacted…


Book cover of Sexual Revolutions in Cuba: Passion, Politics, and Memory

Natalia Milanesio Author Of Destape: Sex, Democracy, and Freedom in Postdictatorial Argentina

From my list on the history of sexuality in modern Latin America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of twentieth-century Argentina and a professor of modern Latin American history currently teaching at the University of Houston. Born and raised in Argentina, I completed my undergraduate studies at the National University of Rosario and moved to the United States in 2000 to continue my education. I received my M.A. in history from New York University and my Ph.D. in history from Indiana University, Bloomington. I have written extensively about gender, working-class history, consumer culture, and sexuality in Argentina. I am the author of Workers Go Shopping in Argentina: The Rise of Popular Consumer Culture and Destape! Sex, Democracy, and Freedom in Postdictatorial Argentina.

Natalia's book list on the history of sexuality in modern Latin America

Natalia Milanesio Why did Natalia love this book?

By analyzing fascinating oral history interviews that allow readers to “listen” to people telling their stories in their own words, Hamilton offers an insightful examination of sexual practices and ideas after the 1959 Revolution. This is a “sexual history from below” that delves into same-sex relations, contraception, marriage, and the intersections between race and gender. The book shows that the political, cultural, and economic changes introduced by Fidel Castro’s regime did not always result in a radical transformation of sexuality. On the contrary, sexuality was a sphere of life in which old values and practices coexisted—sometimes full of tensions—alongside new, revolutionary ones.

By Carrie Hamilton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sexual Revolutions in Cuba as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Sexual Revolutions in Cuba Carrie Hamilton delves into the relationship between passion and politics in revolutionary Cuba to present a comprehensive history of sexuality on the island from the triumph of the Revolution in 1959 into the twenty-first century. Drawing on an unused body of oral history interviews as well as press accounts, literary works, and other published sources, Hamilton pushes beyond official government rhetoric and explores how the wider changes initiated by the Revolution have affected the sexual lives of Cuban citizens. She foregrounds the memories and emotions of ordinary Cubans and compares these experiences with changing policies…


Book cover of The Quality of Home Runs: The Passion, Politics, and Language of Cuban Baseball

Gregg Bocketti Author Of The Invention of the Beautiful Game: Football and the Making of Modern Brazil

From my list on sports in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Why am I passionate about this?

For almost thirty years, I have studied and tried to understand Latin America and the Caribbean. As a historian I have worked with manuscripts and newspapers and books, in archives and libraries and private collections, but I’ve learned my most important lessons elsewhere: on the baseball diamond in Holguín, Cuba, at pick-up cricket matches in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, and in soccer stadiums in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Buenos Aires. These books help give us a sense of the power of such places, the power of sports to reveal the region, and as such they’re a great place to start to understand it. 

Gregg's book list on sports in Latin America and the Caribbean

Gregg Bocketti Why did Gregg love this book?

Naturally, when we think of sports in Latin America we first think of the region’s great athletes, from Pelé to Roberto Clemente, from Lionel Messi to Albert Pujols. But baseball and soccer players do not make sports meaningful on their own; many others – owners, sponsors, politicians, fans – make them what they are. This is the essential insight that guides Thomas Carter’s anthropology of Cuban baseball. He acknowledges the important role of the Communist regime in shaping the game, but he shows convincingly that the game belongs to its fans, for it is their passion that makes baseball important to Cuba, and it is their arguments about the game which make it a site for the negotiation of what it means to be Cuban.

By Thomas F. Carter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Quality of Home Runs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In parks and cafes, homes and stadium stands, Cubans talk baseball. Thomas F. Carter contends that when they are analyzing and debating plays, games, teams, and athletes, Cubans are exchanging ideas not just about baseball but also about Cuba and cubanidad, or what it means to be Cuban. The Quality of Home Runs is Carter's lively ethnographic exploration of the interconnections between baseball and Cuban identity. Suggesting that baseball is in many ways an apt metaphor for cubanidad, Carter points out aspects of the sport that resonate with Cuban social and political life: the perpetual tension between risk and security,…


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