Sherry Johnson addresses the impact of the reformed army upon Cuban society during the latter third of the eighteenth century and then projects the long-term significance of this experience well into the nineteenth. Her central focus is on the 1790s, and in particular, the administration of governor Luis de Las Casas, where Johnson assumes a strongly revisionist position. Researched in the appropriate archives of Spain and Cuba and in various repositories in the United States, her book contains a wealth of new information about colonial Cuba during a period when the island experienced sweeping transformations following the defeat at Havana in the Seven Years’ War.

In my own study of the Cuban army, I focused upon the military reorganization, its political implications, and the army’s interplay with the habanero planter elite and the libre estate. Johnson goes beyond this framework to assess the...

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