For many Cubans, Fidel Castro's Revolution represented deliverance
from a legacy of inequality and national disappointment. For
others—especially those exiled in the United States—Cuba's turn to
socialism made the prerevolutionary period look like paradise lost.
Michael J. Bustamante unsettles this familiar schism by excavating
Cubans' contested memories of the Revolution's roots and results
over its first twenty years. Cubans' battles over the past, he
argues, not only defied simple political divisions; they also
helped shape the course of Cuban history itself. As the Revolution
unfolded, the struggle over historical memory was triangulated
among revolutionary leaders in Havana, expatriate organizations in
Miami, and average Cuban citizens. All Cubans leveraged the past in
individual ways, but personal memories also collided with the Cuban
state's efforts to institutionalize a singular version of the
Drawing on troves of archival materials, including visual media, Bustamante tracks the process of what he calls retrospective politics across the Florida Straits. In doing so, he drives Cuban history beyond the polarized vision seemingly set in stone today and raises the prospect of a more inclusive national narrative.