This study presents tantalizing evidence that hurricanes and other climate extremes exercised a powerful influence over colonial policy affecting Spanish-ruled Cuba during the second half of the eighteenth century. The book’s trans-Caribbean perspective and far-ranging archival research complements John R. McNeill’s recent work on the impact of mosquito-borne illness on the military history of the Age of Revolution. This book makes a compelling case that vagaries in the supply of wheat flour played a critical role not only in the politics of free trade but also in perceptions of the ability of the colonial state to provide a civilized life for its subjects. A daily ration of white bread was a legal right accorded to the regular military, colored militia, and even to the king’s slaves, and it was a key marker of status in a society obsessed with matters of race and...

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