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Professor William LeoGrande - Books

A New Chapter in US-Cuba Relations

A New Chapter in US-Cuba Relations: Social, Political, and Economic Implications, Edited by Eric Hershberg and William M. LeoGrande (Palgrave MacMillan, 2016).

This book explores the diverse consequences of Presidents Obama and Castro brokering a rapprochement between the United States and Cuba after more than half a century of estrangement. Economic, political, social, and cultural dynamics are analyzed in accessible fashion by leading experts from Cuba, the United States, Europe, and Latin America. What opportunities arise through the opening of diplomatic relations, and what issues may be obstacles to normalization? What are the implications for the Cuban economy, for its political system, and for ties with members of the Cuban diaspora? What are the implications for US relations elsewhere in Latin America? This up-to-date account addresses these and other questions about this new direction in US-Cuban relations.

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Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana by William M. LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh (University of North Carolina Press, 2014).

Challenging the conventional wisdom of perpetual hostility between the United States and Cuba-- beyond invasions, covert operations, assassination plots using poison pens and exploding seashells, and a grinding economic embargo--this fascinating book chronicles a surprising, untold history of bilateral efforts toward rapprochement and reconciliation. Since 1959, conflict and aggression have dominated the story of U.S.-Cuban relations. Now, William M. LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh present a new and increasingly more relevant account. From John F. Kennedy's offering of an olive branch to Fidel Castro after the missile crisis, to Henry Kissinger's top secret quest for normalization, to Barack Obama's promise of a "new approach," LeoGrande and Kornbluh reveal a fifty-year record of dialogue and negotiations, both open and furtive, indicating a path toward better relations in the future. 

LeoGrande and Kornbluh have uncovered hundreds of formerly secret U.S. documents and conducted interviews with dozens of negotiators, intermediaries, and policy makers, including Fidel Castro and Jimmy Carter. The authors describe how, despite the political clamor surrounding any hint of better relations with Havana, serious negotiations have been conducted by every presidential administration since Eisenhower's through secret, back-channel diplomacy. Concluding with ten lessons for U.S. negotiators, the book offers an important perspective on current political debates, at a time when leaders of both nations have publicly declared the urgency of moving beyond the legacy of hostility.

Awards

A Foreign Affairs Book of the Year, 2014
Winner of the American Academy of Diplomacy's C. Douglas Dillon Book Award for the best book on American Diplomacy, 2015

Reviews

"LeoGrande and Kornbluh have analyzed thoroughly the history of dialogue between two countries locked in a contradictory relationship for five decades, with each side skeptical that the other truly wanted improved relations. With continual change in Washington, and continuity in Cuban leadership, the authors draw important lessons from the efforts of every administration since Eisenhower to negotiate with Cuba."
--President Jimmy Carter 

"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, 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, policymakers and citizens."
--Julia E. Sweig, author of Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know 

"A prodigious achievement--a truly exceptional examination of perhaps the most vexing relationship in the history of U.S. foreign policy. Based on vast numbers of documents, many rarely seen before, plus firsthand interviews with nearly every one of the important participants, including Jimmy Carter and Fidel Castro, Back Channel to Cuba is the equivalent of a 9' high jump when the world record is 8'04" (held since 1993, incidentally, by a Cuban). Nothing else even comes close."
--Lars Schoultz, author of That Infernal Little Cuban Republic: The United States and the Cuban Revolution

A Contemporary Cuba Reader: The Revolution under Raul Castro cover

A Contemporary Cuba Reader: The Revolution Under Raúl Castro Edited by Philip Brenner, Marguerite Rose Jiménez, John M. Kirk, and William M. LeoGrande (Rowman & Littlefield, 2014).

Cuba has undergone dramatic changes since the collapse of European communism. The loss of economic aid and preferential trade with the Soviet Union and other Eastern bloc countries forced the Cuban government to search out new ways of organizing the domestic economy and new commercial relations in an international system dominated by market economies. The resulting economic reforms have reverberated through Cuban society and politics, recreating social inequalities unknown since the 1950s and confronting the political system with unprecedented new challenges. The resulting ferment is increasingly evident in Cuban cultural expression, and the responses to adversity and scarcity have reshaped Cuban social relations. 

This completely revised and updated edition focuses on Cuba since Raúl Castro took over the country's leadership in 2006. A Contemporary Cuba Reader brings together the best recent scholarship and writing on Cuban politics, economics, foreign relations, society, and culture in present-day Cuba. Ideally suited for students and general readers seeking to understand this still-contentious and controversial island, the book includes a substantive introduction setting the historical context, as well as part introductions and a chronology.

A Contemporary Cuba Reader: Reinventing the Revolution cover

A Contemporary Cuba Reader: Reinventing the Revolution Edited by Philip Brenner, Marguerite Rose Jimenez, John M. Kirk, and William M. LeoGrande (Rowman & Littlefield, 2008).

Cuba has undergone dramatic changes since the collapse of European communism. The loss of economic aid and preferential trade with the Soviet Union and other Eastern bloc countries forced the Cuban government to search out new ways of organizing the domestic economy and new commercial relations in an international system dominated by market economies. The resulting economic reforms have reverberated through Cuban society and politics, recreating social inequalities unknown since the 1950s and confronting the political system with unprecedented new challenges. The resulting ferment is increasingly evident in Cuban cultural expression, and the responses to adversity and scarcity have reshaped Cuban social relations.

This anthology brings together the best recent scholarship and writing on Cuban politics, economics, foreign relations, society, and culture in the post-Soviet era, which Cubans call the "Special Period." Ideally suited for students and general readers seeking to understand contemporary Cuba, the book includes a substantive introduction setting the historical context, as well as part introductions and a chronology.

Reviews

"This book is outstanding in both the breadth and depth of its coverage of Cuba today. The forty-nine contributions span the gamut of Cuban politics, economics, foreign policy, social transformation, and culture, but throughout the focus on changes and continuities in the revolution is maintained. The contributors, some of whom are from Cuba itself, are widely recognized as the leading analysts of their respective topics;many have studied Cuba for thirty or even forty years and provide invaluable knowledge and insight. The book is also lively and engaging. The coeditors are to be applauded for a volume that will stand the test of time."
--Cynthia Mcclintock, George Washington University

"This is a wonderful resource for the study, discussion, and understanding of the contemporary history of Cuba. Delving into often-ignored areas of daily and institutional experience, and opening with an admirably lucid introduction, this text will become an indispensable tool for the teaching of contemporary Cuba in the English-speaking world."
--James Dunkerley, University of London

"With chapters written by an international who's who of specialists in contemporary Cuban politics, international relations, economics, culture, and society-all framed by an uncommonly useful introduction, A Contemporary Cuba Reader is among those few edited volumes that should be on every Latin Americanist's bookshelf. Highly recommended."
--Lars Schoultz, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Our Own Backyard: The United States in Central America, 1977-1992 by William M. LeoGrande (University of North Carolina Press, 1998).

In this remarkable and engaging book, William LeoGrande offers the first comprehensive history of U.S. foreign policy toward Central America in the waning years of the Cold War. From the overthrow of the Somoza dynasty in Nicaragua and the outbreak of El Salvador's civil war in the late 1970s to the final regional peace settlements negotiated a decade later, he chronicles the dramatic struggles--in Washington and Central America--that shaped the region's destiny. 

For good or ill, LeoGrande argues, Central America's fate hinged on decisions that were subject to intense struggles among, and within, Congress, the CIA, the Pentagon, the State Department, and the White House--decisions over which Central Americans themselves had little influence. Like the domestic turmoil unleashed by Vietnam, he says, the struggle over Central America was so divisive that it damaged the fabric of democratic politics at home. It inflamed the tug-of-war between Congress and the executive branch over control of foreign policy and ultimately led to the Iran-contra affair, the nation's most serious political crisis since Watergate.

Awards & Distinctions

  • A Washington Post Book World Pick of the Fall Crop
  • A 1999 Choice Outstanding Academic Title 
  • A Robert F. Kennedy Book Award Semi-finalist

Reviews

"Compelling and elegantly written. . . . [LeoGrande] has risen above partisanship to produce a book central to any historical evaluation of those troubled times."
--Foreign Affairs 

"A masterly and comprehensive chronicle of U.S. policy toward Central America in the 1980s. . . . Our Own Backyard makes the reader squirm as it dredges up memories of dishonest arguments concerning the unsavory friends with whom the United States allied itself and the equally nasty enemies against whom it fought by proxy in El Salvador and Nicaragua. . . . The definitive account of America's part in that murderous conflict."
--Atlantic Monthly 

"LeoGrande's copious study is . . . skillful and accessible. He takes the reader confidently through a complex, often tortuous story, starting with the Carter Administration's paralyzing uncertainty about how to respond to the fall of the Nicaraguan President, Anastasio Somoza Debayle, through the bitter Washington battles over human rights in El Salvador and aid to the Nicaraguan contras, to the Iran-contra affair and ultimately the 1990 Nicaraguan elections that ended Sandinista rule. Throughout, the analysis is thorough and clear."
--New York Times Book Review

"LeoGrande, a professor of government at American University, has put together this 800-page history of U.S. foreign policy in Central America during the tense years from 1977 to 1992. He begins with the overthrow of the Somoza dynasty in Nicaragua, moves on to the civil war in El Salvador, and returns to the peace settlements of the '80s. In all, LeoGrande says, the fate of the region was written in the highly political machinations of the White House, the State Department and the CIA. He argues that the struggles over Central America between Congress and the executive branch of the U.S. government led to the Iran-contra affair and the political scandals that followed. 'We went to war in Central America to exorcise the ghosts of Vietnam and to renew the national will to use force abroad,' he writes. 'Central America's misfortune lay in being the stage upon which this American drama was played out.'"
--Washington Post Book World 

"Full of unorthodox, original perspectives, LeoGrande's clearly written, magisterial study holds timely post-Cold War lessons that transcend the Central American setting."
--Publishers Weekly 

"[LeoGrande] offers the most compelling and authoritative account to date of the United States' involvement in Central America from the Carter administration to that of George H.W. Bush. . . . This is a fascinating and thorough study--easily one of the most authoritative studies of U.S.-Latin American relations and the twentieth century."
--Historian 

"An eminently clear, accessible and restrained account of a lamentable phase in US-Latin American relations. It will undoubtedly be an indispensable work of reference for many years to come."
--International Affairs

Political Parties and Democracy in Central America cover

Political Parties and Democracy in Central America Edited by Louis W. Goodman, William M. LeoGrande, and Johanna Mendelson Forman (Westview, 1992).

Throughout the 1980s, superpower rivalry and regional conflicts decimated the economies of Central America, eroding their political systems. Recent years, however, have witnessed remarkable political change and, since 1990, popularly elected presidents have held office in all seven countries. This book provides an analysis of the political party system in each state, including a history of Central American political institutions and an examination of the domestic and international influences that have shaped the political process.

Reviews

"Contributors to this anthology make a valuable effort to explore the role of political parties in the democratization of Central America. The editors argue that political parties will be 'crucial to the ultimate form of democratic consolidation' in the region. Because of the wealth of detailed material on political parties in all seven countries of the isthmus--Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama--the collection will make a quite useful addition to the libraries of scholars interested in Central America."
-- John Booth, University of North Texas

"This collection is especially welcome because it addresses many contemporary issues in the light of both the polarisation of the 1980s and the deeper historical background. ...One clear lesson it draws is that parties have been undervalued as political agents, perhaps because directly economic determinants and US imperialism have for so long dominated the explanatory landscape. The editors and contributors have evaded the trap of inflating explanatory primacy into exclusivity, generally finding a persuasive balance between the structural context and the record for agency. The editors are to be congratulated for the narrative clarity and focus of almost all the chapters. This volume will, then, serve very well as a reference work as well as a source of suggestion for the appraisal of a new era. Its modesty and sobriety seem distinctly fitting."
--James Dunkerley, Queen Mary and Westpeld College, London

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Confronting Revolution: Security Through Diplomacy in Central America Edited by Morris J. Blachman, William M. LeoGrande, and Kenneth Sharpe (Pantheon, 1986).

Confronting Revolution is a practical, thoughtful analysis of the failure of the United States to pursue a viable policy of national interest in Central America-and a clearly formulated policy alternative, for the region as a whole, and for each country in it. The authors carefully explain the interests of each major actor in the region, with key chapters on the Soviet Union, Cuba , and Nicaragua. They examine the Contadora peace proposal of Mexico, Colombia, Panama, and Venezuela, and consider why the United States refuses to support it. And they conclude with a clear statement of what a viable American foreign policy would be.

Confronting Revolution shows that the failures of American policy are rooted in a tenacious fear of revolution and radical change in the region, a fear that goes back well over a century. The essays show how our fears, not our interests, have led us into the most overt "covert" war in history against Nicaragua; brought us into the heart of the murderous cycle of repression and terror in El Salvador; so militarized Honduras that we are engendering an opposition that is likely to engulf that nation, too, in bitter conflict; allied us indirectly with one of the most murderous regimes in the world in Guatemala; jeopardized our current apparently tranquil relations with Panama; and encouraged democratic Costa Rica to pursue policies that may end up destroying its freedom. Learning to accept radical change and facing up to dealing with the left, this book concludes, are in the end the only way we can obtain our security in the region.

Reviews

"We in the United States know so little about Central America, and ignorance feeds our policy failures. Confronting Revolution explains the reasons for turbulence in the region. With clarity and conviction it argues the case for change in U.S. policies that have prolonged misery for Central Americans and anxiety for us."
--Anthony Lewis 

Every day headlines add new elements to the controversial question of how Washington should deal with Central America. The editors of "Confronting Revolution" answer with words in the subtitle: "through diplomacy." The United States, these essays by 15 contributors say,should abandon its "hegemonic strategic vision" and adopt "a policy of principled realism." Not everybody will agree with the proposed alternatives for dealing with Central America, but the book clearly sets forth the problems the United States faces there.
--New York Times Book Review

"As the essays in Confronting Revolution make clear, United States policy toward Central America characterized more by fear than by greed. For over a century and a half administrations have been concerned that 'outside powers' -- initially Spain, the United Kingdom, or France, latterly the Soviet Union -- would take advantage of Central American instability to intervene and thus potentially threaten the security of the United States. Therefore, since revolutions engender instability, they must be avoided at all costs. In practice, that has meant encouraging reform, but ultimately -- given a choice between repression and any process that might end with 'the Left' in power - acquiescing in the repressive rule of narrow oligarchies and their military allies."
--The Guardian (London)

The Cuba Reader: Making a Revolutionary Society cover

The Cuba Reader: The Making of a Revolutionary Society Edited by Philip Brenner, William M. LeoGrande, Donna Rich, and Daniel Siegel (Grove Press, 1989).

The cry "No more Cubas" has reflexively guided U.S. policy for nearly three decades, yet Cuba's significant improvements in education, health care, housing, and access to food are widely admired throughout the Third World.

Myths and misconceptions about the country abound, but The Cuba Reader at last provides a balanced, comprehensive, and readable description of Cuba as it is today. It places the 1959 revolution in the context of Cuba's hundred years of social change, and explores the pivotal roles that both the United States and the Soviet Union have played in Cuba's politics and its economy, as well as the important issues of human rights and Cuba's relations with the Third World. Perhaps most important, it details the impact of revolutionary ideals on every aspect of Cuban life, from its foreign policy to its daily life and culture.

The United States and Cuba have dramatically increased their diplomatic contact recently, and the complex relationship between the countries seems to be improving. As such new developments occur, The Cuba Reader offers the background necessary to appreciate the changing circumstances. 

Including articles from a wide range of viewpoints inside and outside of Cuba, many of which were written expressly for this volume, The Cuba Reader offers the most complete picture available of this surprising and fascinating country.