"The duty of the hour; - to save her not only from Spain, but from a worse fate." Chromolithograph, 1898. Library of Congress.
Published: October 19, 2012
Fifty years ago this week, a U.S. military jet photographed strategic nuclear missiles that had been installed by the Soviets in Cuba. Over the next 13 days, the world watched with white knuckles, wondering if the Cold War was about to turn very, very hot.
In this episode, we consider the outsized influence that Cuba has had throughout American history. Over the course of the hour, the History Guys consider several major episodes in US-Cuba relations, including the filibustering expeditions of the 19th century, the Spanish-American War of 1898, the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, and the Mariel Boatlift of 1980. In each case, they learn that the episode’s standard storyline gets a whole lot more interesting if you dial its starting point back in time.
Foreign policy expert Jim Blight explains to Brian why the Cuban Missile Crisis wasn’t just a 13-day-long affair, but rather an 18-month-long affair.
BackStory producer Jess Engebretson tells the story of a band of renegades who, in the 19th century, planned an invasion of Cuba with the hopes of annexing it for the United States.
A Jewel in the Crown?
Peter explains why Thomas Jefferson and others in the early republic were interested in acquiring Cuba.
Peter talks with historian Julio Capo about the 1980 Mariel Boatlift that brought thousands of Cuban “undesireables” to Miami, and forced the U.S. to decide whether it was more opposed to Cuba or to homosexuality.
Just Like a Woman
Historian Kristin Hoganson chats with Brian about how gendered depictions of Cuba influenced U.S. public opinion in the lead-up to, and during, the Spanish-American War.
Why We All Like to Cha-Cha-Cha
Ed talks with musician and scholar Ned Sublette about the often unsung influence of Cuban rhythms on American music.
Web Extra: Extended Interview with Jim Blight
Listen to Brian’s extended interview with Jim Blight on the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Caldwell, Robert. (1915) “The Lopez Expeditions to Cuba.” (Doctoral dissertation).
Capo, Julio Jr. “Queering Mariel: Mediating Cold War Foreign Policy and U.S. Citizenship among Cuba’s Homosexual Exile Community, 1978-1994.” Journal of American Ethnic History29, no. 4 (2010): 78-106.