This pathbreaking military history sheds new light on Spanish America’s last colonial war and the multitudes that died on its “ever faithful isle.” John Lawrence Tone seeks to rescue the Spanish-Cuban war from its determinist interpretations as a footnote to the four-month U.S.-Spanish conflict of 1898, or the prelude of a nationalist teleology careening toward the 1959 Cuban Revolution. He responds to the former by privileging campaigns before the arrival of U.S. forces, notably the Cuban Liberation Army’s attempt to destroy the colonial plantation complex and the formal and informal policy of reconcentration by Spaniards and Cubans. Tone skillfully uses autobiographies, diaries, letters, and hospital records to trace the island’s descent into “total war.” In doing so, he reveals the unlikely formation of a policy under which nearly 10 percent of its population perished and, he contends, “the concentration camp was invented” (p....

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