At once labor history, commodity history, and a case study of Atlantic migration, Cuban Sugar Industry condenses an impressive array of learning. In a deeply researched account, Jonathan Curry-Machado colorfully exhumes the life histories of the hundreds of foreign machinists and engineers (whom he groups as maquinistas) who took charge of the mid-nineteenth-century industrialization of the Cuban sugar sector. Going beyond historians’ insistent attention upon masters and slaves, Cuban Sugar Industry adds much to our understanding of the diverse social relations in late colonial Cuba.

The author’s analysis of working-class English and North American machinists who migrated to the sugar island pursuing individualist entrepreneurial destinies reveals how race, class, and craft were intertwined and mutually constitutive and how these props of identity read much differently in different locales within the Atlantic world. For example, in their Anglo-American homelands these downwardly mobile but...

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