Cuba: A Revolution in Motion


240 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55266-114-8
DDC 972.9106'4





Reviewed by J.H. Galloway

J.H. Galloway is a professor of geography at the University of Toronto
and the author of The Sugar Cane Industry.


Whether or not you like this book will depend very much on whether or
not you like the politics of Cuba since 1959. Isaac Saney likes Cuba’s
politics, and his book is both an explanation of them and, depending on
your point of view, an apology for them. For those who would like a more
balanced view of the Castro years, the text soon becomes a little

The first of the book’s themes is the significance of the historical
antecedents of the 1959 Revolution. A second is that not all democracies
are the same and although “under the dominant model Cuba fails the
‘democratic test,’” it can be seen as democratic in terms of
Marxist thought and Cuban traditions. A third theme is the consequence
for Cuba of the proximity of the United States.

Given the importance of the first theme, there is surprisingly little
history in the book. The main discussion of the revolution and economic
policies up to the present is in Chapter 1, “From Columbus to
Revolution.” Here the emphasis is on the economic planning that led to
Cuba’s successful recovery from the crisis generated by the collapse
of the Soviet Union. Chapter 2, “Governance in Cuba,” Chapter 3,
“Race, Inequality and Revolution,” and Chapter 4, “Crime and
Criminal Justice,” are devoted to the second theme. In these three
chapters Saney seems to be very much on the defensive, knowing that he
has a difficult case to make. In Chapter 5, “The United States and
Cuba,” the historical backing from the late 18th century to the
present, though brief, makes for more balanced argument. The last
chapter looks at foreign investment, the environment, and Cuba’s role
on the international scene. More discussion of how Cuba’s government,
society, and economy might evolve would have been useful.


Saney, Isaac., “Cuba: A Revolution in Motion,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed September 25, 2023,