There are several points of historical interpretation that are basic to Cuban-United States understanding, the significance of which are only partially appreciated in this country. One concerns the question of who discovered the transmitting agent of yellow fever. Few persons in the United States seem to realize the deep-seated resentment in Cuban hearts over the honor paid to Dr. Walter Reed to the almost complete neglect of Cuba’s Dr. Carlos J. Finlay. Another point concerns the role of the United States in the winning of Cuban independence. Far from being grateful to this country for “coming to the rescue of Cuba in 1898” in the “glorious Spanish-American War,” Cubans resent even the name given to that war, preferring “Cuban-Spanish-American War” and insisting that the United States entered only the last phase of their thirty years’ struggle for independence at the moment when they had Spain defeated. They further insist that the United States and her people harvested the fruits of victory by making of Cuba an economic colony and a political protectorate. A third point of contention centers around the place in Cuban minds and hearts of José Martí, the organizer of the final phase (1895-98) of Cuba’s independence movement. It is to clarify this last point that Professor Gray has prepared the study in hand. It should be required reading for every person who pretends to any knowledge of Cuba or of Latin America.

The scope, purpose, and limitations of the study are set forth in an excellent introduction. The volume proper consists of ten chapters which divide quite naturally into three parts, the first three chapters giving a biographical sketch of Martí and a brief, workable, and what the author terms “a systematic exposition of his social, political, and economic ideas” selected from the mass of Martí’s writings which have been collected into seventy-four volumes. The term applied here is a misnomer, and the author confessed as much when he wrote at the beginning of Chapter 2:

The ideas of José Martí are disorganized and contradictory. The task of running down and bringing order to this mass of data is beyond the scope of this study. At most, perhaps, one is limited to a judicious selection of thoughts which can be considered most representative of Martí, with the uneasy reservation that in such an enormous and undigested amount of data better selections might have been chosen to point up similar conclusions, or worse still, to arrive at opposite ones.

Cubans will probably consider this passage as blasphemy and forget that elsewhere in the volume Professor Gray has expressed great admiration for Martí. He has been more successful in the next three chapters, which constitute the second part in which is traced “the development of Martí as a National Hero,” yea, more than a national hero: for to many Cuban hearts he has become “El Santo de América”; to his best biographer, Jorge Mañach, the “Apostle of Freedom”; to extreme admirers the “Captain of Archangels,” of “My Saint Joseph,” and to one, “The American Christ.” To all Cubans he is affectionately known as “El Apóstol.” The cult of Martí has advanced so far that some writers refer to “My Martían Breviary,” or even “To the Bible of Martí.”

Aspects of the cult of Martí are well presented in Chapter 6 under the title “The Apotheosis of José Martí.” Presented also are some of the manifestations of the cult and its workings in the daily life of the Cuban people, how Martí is evoked on almost every occasion and in support of every cause. This last is better presented in Chapter 5 on Martían “Symbolism in Social Groups.” Chapter 4 is a survey of efforts to honor Martí with monuments, busts, pictures, medals, coins, parks, etc.

Part Three (also consisting of three chapters) essays the task of demonstrating the uses of Martí and his writings in politics. Suffice it to say that no party, no politician, no political group, no political movement but has claimed support as the propagator of Martí’s ideals, the Martí program, or Martí’s aims for the perfecting of political, social, moral, and economic systems in Cuba and in the world. All Cubans tend to make of Martí all things to all men, especially to themselves and to whatever they are promoting. This is the message of Professor Gray’s book to the people of the United States. It will not tell them all that they need to know about Cuban sentiments on Martí, but it is an excellent primer for them to use in beginning a course on understanding our island neighbor and its people. The summary and conclusions in Chapter 10 should stir the student to use the select bibliography that follows.