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Health, Politics, and Revolution in Cuba Since 1898 Hardcover – December 13, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 274 pages
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers (December 13, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765803445
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765803443
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,800,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"[I]t is surprising to learn in this ethnographic account by a US medical anthropologist that the Castro government has apparently been cooking the books... Her [Hirschfeld's] idealistic preconceptions dashed by 'discrepancies between rhetoric and reality,' she observes a repressive, bureaucratized and secretive system, long on 'militarization' and short on patients' rights, with state-employed 'family doctors' responsible not only for health but also for exposing political dissent... [T]he author, resorting to historical documents, concludes that the regime did foster public health gains after 1959, but concomitantly manipulated both health statistics and the impact of earlier US involvement in Cuba to highlight the 1959 revolution's alleged successes. A revealing and persuasive glimpse into public health under socialism. Highly recommended."

Choice

"An exceptionally informative and original study of public health in Cuba that encompasses both its historical dimensions and the developments under Castro. . . . This volume also provides a revealing grass roots portrait of Cuban society that benefits from the author's extensive personal contacts and experiences during her stay there."

—Paul Hollander, author of Political Pilgrims, Western Intellectuals in Search of the Good Society

"Health, Politics and Revolution in Cuba Since 1898 is a reflection of a new generation of courageous, fact-based researchers who validate that eclectic qualitative/quantitative comparative anthropological techniques can be mighty effective--when objectively implemented--for deconstructing a closed society's crafty propaganda. In sum, this tome is exemplary science making in the best Millian-Popperian tradition with implications transcending ever-growing Cubanology."

—Cuban Affairs

"When Hirschfeld (anthropology, U. of Oklahoma) began the project that was to become this book, it was intended to be simply an ethnographic account on the socialization of health and medicine in socialist Cuba. After being hospitalized in Cuba following coming down with dengue fever during an epidemic that the government initially denied, however, her newfound skepticism regarding the reliability of official figures and accounts of Cuba's health system led her towards a more historically-oriented investigation of the politics of health in pre- and post-revolutionary Cuba (although the experiences of her fieldwork and hospitalization are also discussed in some detail) This is a paperbound edition of a work first published in 2006."

SciTech Book News

“Part ethnography (conducted in 1997), part historical analysis. Highly critical of common academic assessments of Cuban health system; questions the veracity of Cuban health statistics.”

Family Medicine

Review

"[Health, Politics and Revolution in Cuba Since 1898] is a reflection of a new generation of courageous, fact-based researchers who validate that eclectic qualitative/quantitative comparative anthropological techniques can be mighty effective--when objectively implemented--for deconstructing a closed society's crafty propaganda. In sum, this tome is exemplary science making in the best Millian-Popperian tradition with implications transcending ever-growing Cubanology.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Federico on August 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A lucid analysis of Public Health in Cuba since 1898, including a first-hand experience of the system during the author's close-to-one-year stay in the island. A powerful document that helps to dispel the myth that Public Health is one of the major accomplishments of Castro's regimen, and uncovers how a police, terror-driven state works.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Christina Rutheiser on March 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Ms. Hirschfeld provides an intriguing perspective in a thoroughly enjoyable format which is as accessable to laypersons as it is to academics with a pre-existing interest in Cuba. Her first person accounts of experiences in Cuba--particularly during a dengue epidemic--make for enlightening, educational and utterly compelling reading. A comprehensive survey of Cuban history follows, clearly the result of extensive work on the part of Ms. Hirschfeld. This book is a must-own, for sure!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Corson Hirschfeld on April 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
Fair disclosure: this book was written by my spouse, though before we were married. I believe my comments are honest, but the reader should consider them with our present relationship in mind. My impressions of Dr. Hirschfeld's observations were influenced by cultural exchanges I participated in long before to the Soviet Union and the Peoples' Republic of China, both under similar corrupted communist regimes as Cuba, and which held very non-socialist two-tier healthcare systems; one for the upper strata and ranking military--excellent--and another--woefully inadequate--for the common people. The high ideals of early communism were abandoned under all three systems.

Thankfully Dr. Hirschfeld's book holds no dry academic wringing of statistics (what there are in Cuba are suspect), nor is this a puff-piece written by a naive visitor shepherded to inauthentic clinics-for-show or to hospitals for foreigners or the ruling elite. The fascinating heart of this book is the year Dr. Hirschfeld spent in Cuba under the radar as a simple visitor. She arrived in Cuba anticipating confirmation of the prevailing academic view that life and health care under the Marxist system was a model of excellence. She soon experienced an epiphany as she witnessed the reality of living under the Castro regime: widespread shortages, petty humiliations, harassments, official doublespeak, and, contrary to expectations, regrettably poor health care for average citizens. This was not merely an impression: she became ill (only later did she learn she had contracted dengue fever) and was whisked away to an isolation ward in which she and other women suffering from the painful disease (also called break-bone fever) were kept as virtual prisoners.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Laurence Daley on February 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Hirschfeld, Katherine 2006 Health, Politics, and Revolution in Cuba Since 1898 Transaction Publishers. ISBN-10 0765803445 ISBN-13 978-0765803443

This book an essential and valuable resource for those who wish to study the Cuban health system. Those critics who point out that the data has gaps, might well consider the difficulties found when trying to retrieve such information from Cuba; plus, one should keep in mind that presenting such flaws in health services is anathema to supporters of the Cuban government. This is true not only in Cuba, where jail terms reward for dissemination of such, but also outside of Cuba where attempts to suppress unfavorable information on this matter also exist. For instance mention of this book has been banned from discussion in Wikipedia. What ever the barriers, this book clearly demonstrates the many flaws in the Cuban Health system, and the large gap between the commonly perceived and reality of health services in Cuba.
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