Naturally, my recent roundup of books on Cuba
missed a couple of important contributions to that magical island nation's bibliography. Alongside Ned Sublette's seminal Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo
, Cuban saxophonist-turned-historian Leonardo Acosta's Cubano Be Cubano Bop: One Hundred Years of Jazz in Cuba
(Smithsonian Books) is a fundamental (not to mention the first) history, which among other things traces the evolution of Latin or Afro-Cuban jazz through the inspiration of players like Machito, Mario Bauza, Dizzy Gillespie, and Chano Pozo. One alert reader reminded me of British historian Richard Gott's (Guerrilla Movements in Latin America
) update on Cuban history, Cuba: A New History
(Yale University Press), with a chapter on Cuba during the post-Soviet "Special Period."
The University of North Carolina Press may be an unlikely center of Cuban scholarship, but it continues to publish highly useful tomes, such as political scientist Lars Schoultz's comprehensive analysis of the longstanding failed American policies toward our Caribbean neighbor in That Infernal Little Cuban Republic: The United States and the Cuban Revolution
. His organizing principle is viewing U.S.-Cuba engagement through 10 presidential administrations--one would hope the present president might take heed of America's voluminous past mistakes and foibles.