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Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana Hardcover – October 13, 2014


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Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana + Cuban Revelations: Behind the Scenes in Havana (Contemporary Cuba) + Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know®, Second Edition
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 1 edition (October 13, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1469617633
  • ISBN-13: 978-1469617633
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,212 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

An exceedingly well-written and well-documented account. . . . Essential for libraries that support research into the political and diplomatic history of America foreign relations with Cuba in the latter half of the 20th century.--Library Journal, starred review

LeoGrande and Kornbluh's exhaustive and masterful diplomatic history will stand as the most authoritative account of U.S.-Cuban diplomatic relations during the five decades of Cuban President Fidel Castro's rule.--Foreign Affairs

Told in clear prose, this richly detailed book underscores how diplomacy makes headlines, but many exchanges happen far from official negotiation tables.--Publishers Weekly, starred review

Challenging the prevailing narrative of U.S.-Cuba relations, this book investigates the history of the secret, and often surprising, dialogue between Washington and Havana. The authors, who spent more than a decade examining classified files, provide a comprehensive account of negotiations beginning in 1959. . . . suggesting that the past holds lessons for future negotiators." --The New Yorker

Review

Back Channel to Cuba tells a dynamic, expansive, and anecdote-rich story drawn from compelling primary sources, interviews and declassified documents. Generational change in the ranks of Cuban leadership and transformation on the ground and in the Cuban diaspora in the United States make Back Channel to Cuba a particularly timely contribution: history can and should serve as a guide to present and future decisions about the art of the possible by Cuban and American leaders, policy makers, and citizens.--Julia E. Sweig, author of Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By ernest schusky on October 2, 2014
Format: Hardcover
From Eisenhower to Obama, Presidents have used informal, highly secretive communications to determine relations between Cuba and the United States. Most experts have known this practice has existed, but LeoGrande and Kornbluh document its extent to such lengths that even the most informed will be shocked. The two authors rely heavily upon freedom of information access, but they have also interviewed many of the participants. The most shocking of their revelations is that Henry Kissinger, who initially proposed further openings to Cuba because of Nixon's success with China, was so enraged that Cuba sent forces to Africa, that he encouraged planning to invade Cuba. Moreover, he won Gerald Ford's approval for such an adventure. The authors suggest that only the election of Jimmy Carter prevented a debacle.
Although other attempts at establishing relations to Cuba are not so shocking, they will give readers insight into how Fidel Castro and his brother have made life so difficult for American Presidents who must always factor in the Cuban vote with what they would like to do internationally. Most Presidents, the book shows, hoped to have a better relation with the island, but just as they anticipated an opening to normalization some small event, such as the kidnapping of a divorced couple's child, set back any possible improvement.
This remarkable book focuses on the lack of transparency in relations with Cuba, but it also indicates how secretive U.S. diplomacy must be generally. A must read for anyone itnerested in foreigh relations.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kirby Jones on October 10, 2014
Format: Hardcover
So many books about Cuba have been written, but none are as absorbing and informational as this book by LeoGrande and Kornbluh. I was pleased to have been a small part of their exposition of the various and many secret talks between Cuba and the U.S. Since I first visited Cuba in 1974 to interview Fidel and was witness to a message to Fidel from Kissinger, I am struck by how little has changed after all these years and after all these attempts. The Cubans have displayed immense patience while the U.S. has - time and time again - revealed that they never understood the Cuban character, never placed themselves in Cuba's position, and repeatedly cut off talks when Cuba did not do as they said or expected. And then the U.S. wondered why Cuba didn't accept when all the U.S. was demanding was for Cuba to change its entire political and economic system. And it is still demanding that of Cuba today despite 50 years. Bits and pieces of what the authors recount starting with Eisenhower have dribbled out but when they put them all in one place - this book - they take on a pattern and illumination. A fantastic book which will educate the expert or the casual observer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Vahe Demirjian on December 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover
In the world of the cold war between the US and Cuba, there were numerous negotiations between the countries that were conducted under the radar, including talks regarding immigration, as well as offers of friendship. Gerald Ford's negotiations with Cuba in the mid-1970s and Reagan's initiation of immigration talks, and also Clinton's immigration agreement with Cuba were just three of the many examples of secret negotiations between the two countries. Now that Barack Obama has announced to normalize relations with Cuba, "Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana" will provide future scholars and readers with an in-depth look into secret negotiations between the US and Cuba during the Fidel Castro era. As a matter of fact, the talks that led to the normalization pact unveiled by the Obama Administration were also conducted under the radar.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Oliver Völckers on November 5, 2014
Format: Hardcover
The authors William M. LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh have years of experience with this subject. This book chronicles the history of the difficult relations between the US and the revolutionary Cuba in detail. In a heated ideological debate, this book offers a refreshing matter-of-fact perspective.

The book is divided into chapters according to the US presidents Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon und Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The book is praised by Jimmy Carter. It is based on official papers that had been published by the government after decades as well as interviews with direct participants in the negotiations from both sides. This means the reported facts are likely to be accepted by anybody involved; quite an achievement considering the conflict.

Looking at this history of the relations, it becomes clear that the US government has attained the opposite of their stated objective:
- the pig bay invasion stabilized the young revolutionary government against a common enemy
- as the US negotiators accepted the liberation of jailed dissidents as their main currency against concessions, they encouraged the Cuban government to imprison many opponents
- while the blockade harms Cuba severely, even the toughest critics of Castro in Cuba agree in their opposition to it.
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