Cuba Since the Revolution of 1959

A Critical Assessment

Uncritically lauded by many on the left, and impulsively denounced by the right, the Cuban revolution is almost universally viewed in one-dimensional terms. Farber, one of its most informed left-wing critics, provides a much-needed critical assessment of the revolution’s impact and legacy.

About the author

Samuel Farber was born and raised in Marianao, Cuba, and came to the United States in February 1958. He obtained a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California at Berkeley in 1969 and taught at a number of colleges and universities including UCLA and, most recently, Brooklyn College, where he is a Professor Emeritus of Political Science. His scholarship on Cuba is extensive and includes many articles and two previous books: Revolution and Reaction in Cuba, 1933–1960 (Wesleyan University Press, 1976) and The Origins of the Cuban Revolution Reconsidered (University of North Carolina Press, 2006). Farber was active in the Cuban high school student movement against Fulgencio Batista in the 1950s, and has been involved in socialist politics for more than fifty years.


“A courageous and formidable balance-sheet of the Cuban Revolution, including a sobering analysis of a draconian ‘reform’ program that will only deepen the gulf between revolutionary slogans and the actual life of the people.”
—Mike Davis, professor, University of California, Riverside; author, Planet of Slums and In Praise of Barbarians

"Though countless analyses evaluate just how thoroughly the revolution has transformed Cuba over the past 50 years, few rival Samuel Farber’s work Cuba Since the Revolution of 1959: A Critical Assessment"
—Rebecca Whedon, Foreign Policy in Focus

"The Cuban story twists and turns as we speak, so thank goodness for scholars such as Samuel Farber, an unapologetic Marxist whose knowledge of Cuban affairs is unrivalled … In this excellent, necessary book, Farber takes stock of 50 years of revolutionary control by recognising achievements but lambasting authoritarianism."
Latin American Review of Books

“Farber’s comprehensive and well-written assessment of Cuba’s experience since 1959 is rooted in history, informed by the comparative sociology of communist regimes, and rich in insightful and feisty analysis.”
—Jorge I. Domínguez, Professor of Mexican and Latin American Politics and Economics, Harvard University

“‘My political roots are in the classical Marxist tradition that preceded Stalinism in the USSR,’ writes Samuel Farber at the beginning of his book. Based on that political and theoretical outlook, opposed as much to neoliberal thought as to the perversions of Stalinist and postmodern communist statism, Farber sets out to critically explore the course followed by the society, government, and power structures that emerged from the Cuban Revolution of 1959. His field of research covers the irreducible hostility of the US establishment, Cuba’s historical inheritance, and the alternatives and decisions of its leaders in the last decades, up to and including the problems and challenges they face in these times. His study ends with a careful analysis of the premises and reform proposals currently being discussed in Cuba. A necessary and suggestive reading for all of those concerned with Cuba’s future and with the threat posed by the imperial power over the entire Caribbean region.”
—Adolfo Gilly, Emeritus Professor of History, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and author, The Mexican Revolution

“This important, very well written, and quite interesting book, evaluates the fifty-two years of the Cuban Revolution under a classical Marxist (pre-Stalinist) viewpoint. Samuel Farber doesn’t pretend to be impartial: he advocates a transition toward a revolutionary, participatory socialist democracy, based on majority rule, civil rights, and liberties. And yet his book is thoroughly, painstakingly documented. He evaluates, with surprising insights, Cuba’s performance on national sovereignty, political democracy, economic growth, social welfare, race, gender, and the stand of domestic and external dissidents and critics. It is up-to-date, including an examination of the guidelines for the VI Party Congress, and ends with a good balance sheet of Marx and Engels’ views. Expect a strong reaction both from the right and the left. Don’t miss it! ”
—Carmelo Mesa-Lago, Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Economics and Latin American Studies, University of Pittsburgh

“Samuel Farber’s work on Cuba has long championed revolutionary democratic socialism from below. His latest book, a sophisticated and nuanced historical synthesis of the Cuban Revolution since 1959, provides an indispensable guide to the politics of a tiny island state that helped determine the history of Latin America and the dynamics of the Cold War in the latter half of the twentieth century. With a magisterial grasp of historical detail, and an incisive analytical eye, Farber offers an unparalleled cartography of the ideological debates and political outcomes of Cuba’s economic development, foreign policy, socio-cultural fluctuations in race and gender, and working-class and peasant realities under the rule of the Castro brothers. While acknowledging achievements of the revolutionary process in education and health, and defending Cuban sovereignty against imperial intervention, Farber shatters many of the idyllic myths propagated by left-wing apologists for the regime’s authoritarianism. The geriatric transition from Fidel to Raúl seems to promise a strategic shift toward a Cuban version of Sino-Vietnamese, state-led capitalism. A revolutionary democratic alternative, Farber shows, will only be possible through socialist resistance from below.”
—Jeffery R. Webber, Queen Mary, University of London, author of From Rebellion to Reform in Bolivia: Class Struggle, Indigenous Liberation and the Politics of Evo Morales

“Samuel Farber is an excellent teacher … I found myself ending the book humbly grateful to the author for so many things, including his impeccable scholarship and his implacable commitment to the truth.”
Havana Times

“For some left-socialists like Farber, no society seems to have measured up since the Paris Commune of 1871. But patient readers will be rewarded by his frequent insights, stimulating historical comparisons, and command of the data relating to Cuba’s economic and social performance.” 
Foreign Affairs

"Cuba Since the Revolution of 1959: a Critical Assessment is essential reading for anyone on the left concerned with the history and future of the Cuban revolution in particular, and of socialism in general. Farber’s meticulously researched and lucidly argued investigation of over half a century of Cuban "socialism" presents a challenge to supporters and opponents of the Cuban revolution on both the left and right, particularly for those anti-Stalinists who believe that "Cuba is different" from other bureaucratic societies."
—Charles Post, New Politics

“Samuel Farber's Cuba Since the Revolution of 1959: A Critical Assessment is bound to change the way we think about Latin America's most important socialist experiment … [The Book] provides a devastating critique of the Castro government in an historical synthesis rich in theoretical and empirical detail.”
—Neil A. Burron, Socialist Studies

"I believe this book is destined to become a classic."
—Alejandro Anreus, Z Mag


To read an excerpt of Cuba Since the Revolution of 1959 Visit