For decades, the history of colonial Cuba has attracted the attention of numerous scholars, who have explored the central role that the Spanish island played in what Dale Tomich has defined as the second slavery. However, a lot less has been written, especially in English, about what had happened before sugarcane infected the region during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In this sense, Luis Martínez-Fernández's book is a remarkable and very welcome contribution to the field. His work introduces the reader to the fascinating history of the biggest Caribbean island, from its geological formation (between 72.1 to 33.9 million years ago) to the consolidation of the colonial society in the late seventeenth century.

The book is divided into eight topical chapters, arranged chronologically, which can also be read as independent essays. The study approaches the topic from three different levels: the macro...

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