Since the late 1990s, a growing number of scholars in and outside Cuba have struggled to move beyond their own passionately held ideological convictions to make sense of the origins, purpose, and legacy of Operation Pedro Pan, a semiclandestine effort by which approximately 14,000 Cuban children were sent alone to the United States during the revolution's tumultuous early years. The latest is Deborah Shnookal, who proposes to move beyond the Cold War oversimplifications of earlier scholarship—much of which has portrayed the operation as either a humanitarian mission to rescue children from communist indoctrination or a Central Intelligence Agency–sponsored mass kidnapping—to offer a more complex analysis of the multiple “push and pull factors” that drove the children's exodus (p. 4).

Adopting a generational and youth-centered focus, Shnookal argues that the exodus was driven by parent-child conflict brought to a head by the mass...

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