William LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh
Back Channel to Cuba
The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana
University of North Carolina Press 2014
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in Caribbean StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Latin American StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network July 24, 2015 Keith Simmons
In December 2014, Cuba and the United States announced their renewed efforts to normalize relations. Diplomatic ties were severed in 1961 following the rise of Fidel Castro and the intensification during the Cold War. An economic and intellectual embargo was instituted by President Kennedy, arguing that Cuba needed to be sealed from the free world in order to induce regime change and contain communist influence.
The Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962 nearly brought the world to nuclear ruin. Negotiations between The United States and the Soviet Union averted disaster, and crystalized the necessity for antagonistic powers to maintain a line of communication. Thus, despite the embargo, Fidel Castro frequently expressed a desire to return to normalcy with the United States. Both sides have a long history of communicating in secret over a range of issues, including refugee policies and air piracy. William LeoGrande, professor of government at American University, and Peter Kornbluh, director of the Cuba Documentation Project at the National Security Archive in Washington, D.C., are co-authors of the new book Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana (University of North Carolina Press, 2014). LeoGrande and Kornbluh detail efforts for both sides to reconcile their opposing ideological positions in the hope of, as Raul Castro articulated, rebuilding the bridge of friendship between Cuba and the United States.