Tzvi Medin examines how revolutionary ideology has shaped the social consciousness of the Cubans. He notes how Cuba has grafted Marxist-Leninist consciousness onto nationalism, not primarily by indoctrination but by enabling the people to participate in praxis that fosters social change.

Fidel Castro began to mold revolutionary consciousness before declaring for socialism in 1961. That year’s literacy campaign, according to Medin, fostered revolutionary consciousness as students were taught with language that included socialist concepts. The author imputes rigidity to the educational system, which stresses qualitative democracy, ideological unity, and revolutionary consciousness, yet he acknowledges that Cubans learn to think and analyze. According to Medin, Cuba builds social cohesion around the guerrilla epic, with Fidel as the main actor. The government senses a need for revolutionary symbols. Cuban cultural forms also depict fallen heroes but emphasize that heroic struggle ultimately triumphs over death. Cuba’s new historiography puts heroic deeds into socialist perspective.

Medin indicates that Cuba has tried, with varied results, to instill revolutionary consciousness in all areas of culture and society. Cinema familiarizes the masses with culture and ideology and does so critically. Detective fiction is dominated by themes of revolutionary justice, with the collective, not the investigator, as the hero. Poetry assumes revolutionary and traditional themes. Popular music has not changed radically and remains somewhat immune from the “monolithic revolutionary message” (p. 168), although the ballads of the Nueva Trova laud the revolution. Theater has a solid political base, as does the testimonial genre, which documents revolutionary reality and rivals detective literature for popularity. The armed forces, the mass organizations, and the vanguard party enable members to participate in, and identify with, the revolution.

The writer points out inconsistencies in the revolutionary ethos but believes that Cuba turned José Martí’s dream into reality. He finds, incorrectly, that at the grassroots level Cuba identifies Martí with Marxism. Cubans generally associate Martí with national liberation. At times, Medin judges Cuba’s anti-elitist revolution by elitist standards. Nevertheless, he offers a cogent analysis of the role of popular revolutionary consciousness, which he cites as the key to political power in Cuba. People of all ideologies can benefit from his thoughtful work.