The best books about Cuba 📚

Browse the best books on Cuba as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of Jose Marti Reader: Writings on the Americas

Jose Marti Reader: Writings on the Americas

By Jose Marti

Why this book?

José Martí was a poet and writer who became the leader of Cuba’s final independence movement from Spain. He died in battle in 1895 and is the island’s best-known hero – images and statues of him can be found in almost every town in Cuba. He spent much of his life in exile, including in the United States. He was a prolific journalist, and his essay ‘Nuestra América’ (Our America, 1881) is one of his most-cited works. His observations about the US and the rest of the Americas were astute, and his work continues to offer insights that are applicable…

From the list:

The best books on the USA by Hispanic writers who everyone should know

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

Sexual Revolutions in Cuba: Passion, Politics, and Memory

By Carrie Hamilton

Why 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,…

From the list:

The best books on the history of sexuality in modern Latin America

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Book cover of When It’s Cocktail Time in Cuba

When It’s Cocktail Time in Cuba

By Basil Woon

Why this book?

Privately published in 1928 by Horace Liveright, British playwright and journalist Basil Woon captured the energy that took hold of Havana during Prohibition in the USA, as Americans flocked by the thousands to drink, gamble, and party served by hundreds of Cuban and self-exiled American bartenders amid the tropical beauty that is Cuba. This book opened my eyes to clues that helped me sort out the true origins of the Mary Pickford, the Mojito, and the El Presidente. While my husband and I travelled to Havana once a year for ten years, this book guided us to the places we…

From the list:

The best folklore, fact, and fallacy-busting books about spirits & cocktail history

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Book cover of The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette's Journey to Cuba

The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette's Journey to Cuba

By Margarita Engle

Why this book?

The Firefly Letters was another early read. There is nothing that Margarita has written that I’ve not loved, but since this was the first of her books that I read, it has remained a favorite. Her poetic portrait of the early suffragette, Fredrika Bremer, reminded me that when hearts and minds are open, bonds of sisterhood transcend societal restrictions. It is a powerful book whose message continues to resonate. 

From the list:

The best historical verse novels for middle schoolers

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Book cover of Awaiting Armageddon: How Americans Faced the Cuban Missile Crisis

Awaiting Armageddon: How Americans Faced the Cuban Missile Crisis

By Alice L George

Why this book?

At the height of the Cuban missile crisis, President Kennedy met with the Pentagon’s head of civil defense, Steuart Pittman, to assess plans for protecting the American civilian population in the event of nuclear war. JFK mistakenly claimed that rural America could be better protected from radiation than urban America; Pittman, however, bluntly told the president that he was wrong: insisting that, “the only protection today is in the cities and there is little or no protection in the rural areas.” Kennedy became quite irritated, but unfortunately, his harsh reply was largely lost because the sound quality of the tape…

From the list:

The best books on the Cuban Missile Crisis since the opening of JFK's White House tape recordings

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Book cover of The Soviet Cuban Missile Crisis: Castro, Mikoyan, Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Missiles of November

The Soviet Cuban Missile Crisis: Castro, Mikoyan, Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Missiles of November

By Sergo Mikoyan, Svetlana Savranskaya

Why this book?

The books discussed above concentrate on the missile crisis in the US, but there was also a crisis in Moscow and Havana. Americans called this event “the Cuban missile crisis,” the Soviets called it “the Caribbean Crisis,” and the Cubans “the October crisis”—because conflict with the US had become a recurring fact of life in Cuba. The Kennedy administration had also been sponsoring sabotage and political assassination in Cuba kept secret from the American people but well known to the Russians and the Cubans. The Soviet Cuban Missile Crisis opens a window into Castro’s fury at not being informed or…

From the list:

The best books on the Cuban Missile Crisis since the opening of JFK's White House tape recordings

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