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William M. LeoGrande & Peter Kornbluh

The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana

4.7 (28 ratings)
32 mins

Brief summary

Back Channel to Cuba by William M. LeoGrande & Peter Kornbluh is an informative account of secret negotiations between the U.S. & Cuba during the Cold War. It highlights the untold stories of diplomats and leaders who played a crucial role in shaping the history of these two nations.

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    Back Channel to Cuba
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    Modern US-Cuban relations began with a revolution in 1959.

    To understand the troubled relationship between Cuba and the United States, we have to go back about 50 years.

    On January 1, 1959, a revolution, led by Fidel Castro and Che Guevera, sent the previous ruler, Fulgencio Batista, into exile. This event immediately put the United States on edge.

    The US government had helped Batista take power in 1933, and even though the United States knew that he’d become a violent and corrupt ruler, he’d remained supportive of US financial interests in Cuba.

    So, while Cubans cheered and welcomed Castro’s new government, the United States wasn’t sure what to make of this brash and unpredictable leader who had just overthrown their ally.

    But, by all accounts, both Castro and the United States wanted to start off on good terms. In April of 1959, Castro embarked on a “goodwill tour” of the United States, where he greeted the press and met with US government officials.

    The United States was ready to offer Cuba financial assistance, but, during his trip, Castro refused to ask anyone for money. He was intent on creating an independent Cuba, a nation that would govern itself and not be controlled by US interests.

    Things began going sour when US President Dwight D. Eisenhower publicly snubbed Castro by going on a golfing trip during his visit. Castro was insulted that Eisenhower didn’t consider the new Cuban leader worthy of his time.

    Relations became more strained upon Castro’s return to Cuba.

    On May 17th, 1959, Castro began a socialist platform and nationalized all Cuban estates over 1,000 acres, upsetting US investors who owned many of Cuba’s large plantations. Soon afterward, Castro decided to consolidate the top levels of his government by kicking out the politically moderate members in favor of radical and communist-minded leaders.

    By November of 1959, the United States had seen enough, and the CIA began initiating secret programs, looking for ways to overthrow Castro’s government.

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    What is Back Channel to Cuba about?

    With unprecedented access to declassified documents, Back Channel to Cuba (2014) reveals the long and bumpy road of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba. Find out how 50 years of unsuccessful foreign policy have kept Cuba and the United States at odds despite the efforts of secret, back-channel negotiations that have been taking place since the Eisenhower administration.

    Back Channel to Cuba Review

    Back Channel to Cuba (2014) is a riveting exploration of the secret negotiations that led to the thawing of U.S.-Cuba relations. Here's what makes this book a must-read:

    • It offers unprecedented access to declassified documents and secret tapes, providing an insider's perspective on the events that shaped the relationship between the two countries.
    • The authors present a meticulously researched and balanced account of the negotiations, giving readers a comprehensive understanding of the complexities involved.
    • With its compelling storytelling and behind-the-scenes insights, the book keeps readers engaged, ensuring that the subject matter remains intriguing throughout.

    Best quote from Back Channel to Cuba

    Castro was firmly in power… so popular that everyone called him Fidel, even his enemies.

    —William M. LeoGrande & Peter Kornbluh
    example alt text

    Who should read Back Channel to Cuba?

    • History buffs interested in one of the longest US conflicts
    • Politicos wanting a behind-the-scenes look at foreign policy
    • Aspiring diplomats in search of the dos and don’ts of diplomacy

    About the Author

    William M. LeoGrande is an author and professor at the School of Public Affairs at American University. His other books include Our Own Backyard: The United States in Central America, 1977-1992.

    Peter Kornbluh is the director of the National Security Archive’s Cuba Documentation Project. His other books include The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability.

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    Back Channel to Cuba FAQs 

    What is the main message of Back Channel to Cuba?

    The main message of Back Channel to Cuba is the importance of diplomacy and secret negotiations in resolving international conflicts.

    How long does it take to read Back Channel to Cuba?

    The reading time for Back Channel to Cuba varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Back Channel to Cuba a good book? Is it worth reading?

    With its captivating storytelling and valuable insights, Back Channel to Cuba is definitely worth reading.

    Who is the author of Back Channel to Cuba?

    The authors of Back Channel to Cuba are William M. LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh.

    What to read after Back Channel to Cuba?

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