Admirers and critics have rightly marveled at Cuba's outsize impact on the world stage. From their influence on global anti-imperialist politics to their successful military presence in Angola, the revolution's leaders proved far more than proxies for Soviet interests or hapless foreign policy adventurers—Che Guevara's ill-fated exploits in Bolivia and the Congo notwithstanding. Dirk Kruijt takes us behind the scenes of such engagements, chronicling five decades of Cuba's involvement in the part of the world where the revolution hoped to leave its biggest mark: Latin America.

Kruijt draws on a novel source base: 60-plus interviews with veterans of Cuba's covert and overt contacts in the region. Especially impressive are his conversations with former members of the Departamento América, the much-mythologized branch of Cuba's foreign intelligence services that lent material support to generations of Latin American radicals. Granted, these individuals are high-level operatives...

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