The volume under review proposes to rethink Cuban history from the vantage point of the Havana psychiatric hospital known as Mazorra. According to the author, the hospital “incarnates the glories and failures of the Cuban state” (p. 6). Inaugurated as the Casa General de Dementes in 1857, when the island was still a Spanish colony, Mazorra has occupied since then a central place in the Cuban political and social imagination.

Madhouse is an ambitious book. It offers an institutional history of the hospital, an exploration of the process of professionalization of psychiatry in Cuba, and, in more general terms, a discussion of the history of the Cuban state and politics over a period of almost one century. The history of the hospital, like the history of Cuba in general, has been deeply influenced by US politics. Lambe's historical narrative thus starts in...

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