Have you seen the gorgeous jacket (designed by Rich Hendel) for Louis Perez’s new book? The New Yorker Books Department has, and they’re digging it! (There should be some joke here about judging a book, etc., but I’m going to say let’s just make those jokes quietly to ourselves and move on.) Lou Perez is one of the top historians of Cuba, so a new book by Perez is big news, especially at a time when transitions in both the Cuban and United States governments present opportunities to re-address the strained relationship between the two countries. Tampa Bay Online’s Bibliophile is sitting up and taking notice. And the blog HEPPAS Books is helping spread the word.
Cuba in the American Imagination: Metaphor and the Imperial Ethos offers an intriguing analysis of the ways Americans have described Cuba over the past 200 years: as a woman, a piece of ripe fruit, a child. Such paternalistic imagery has helped shape American public perception of the country, and has served the political aims of American leaders, Perez argues. The book is available in bookstores now.
Here’s what people are saying about Cuba in the American Imagination:
“From its intervention in Cuba’s war of independence from Spain to the naming of a ‘transition coordinator’ for the post-Castro period, the United States has long reacted to Cuba as a neuralgic issue. Louis Pérez helps us understand the recurrent American attitudes of entitlement, domination, disappointment, and shock that have framed U.S. policies, and shows how U.S. experience with Cuba has shaped the broader world reputation of the United States. One can hope that tomorrow’s policymakers will learn from this illuminating account.”–Abraham F. Lowenthal, University of Southern California
“Pérez reminds us that the current U.S. policies toward Cuba and the hype about how the U.S. should ‘manage’ Cuba after Fidel are informed by deeply entrenched metaphors from the previous two centuries. This history reveals the ongoing blindness to social and political realities that such metaphors encourage. Cuba in the American Imagination is a timely addition to Pérez’s magisterial oeuvre.”–Amy Kaplan, University of Pennsylvania
“Pérez is our best historian of U.S.-Cuban relations, and this book is in one sense a summation of his distinguished work over the past several decades. It is particularly significant because the U.S.-Cuban relationship is going to have to be fundamentally rethought and reshaped in the near future, and this work not only provides critical information, but also acts as a loud warning about how that debate must not be conducted.”–Walter LaFeber, Emeritus, Cornell University
Taking a cue from the folks above, here’s an idea: buy a copy of this book and send it to your Senator or Congressperson!
Want to read more from Lou Perez? Here are some of his previous books: