Michael Erisman’s Cuba’s Foreign Relations in a Post-Soviet World is a book that, as the author himself admits in the introduction, many did not expect ever to see in print. The expectation among some observers was that the Cuban government would not outlast the fall of communism in its closest allies and its principal benefactor. From this perspective, Cuba, as we have come to know it since 1959, would not exist in a post-Soviet world. That Castro’s government defied the odds underscores the national dimensions of its raison d’etre. Ironically, Erisman seems to forget this point as he focuses on external sources of Cuba’s domestic and international woes. This book is emblematic of the strengths and weaknesses of a strand of political science scholarship on communist Cuba.

The field of Cuban studies, particularly in the area of political analyses, has been permeated by...

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