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672 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 31 halftones, 9 maps, notes, bibl., index

Not for sale in South African region

New Cold War History

ISBN  978-1-4696-0968-3
Published: November 2013

Visions of Freedom

Havana, Washington, Pretoria, and the Struggle for Southern Africa, 1976-1991

By Piero Gleijeses

Awards & Distinctions

2014 Friedrich Katz Prize, American Historical Association

During the final fifteen years of the Cold War, southern Africa underwent a period of upheaval, with dramatic twists and turns in relations between the superpowers. Americans, Cubans, Soviets, and Africans fought over the future of Angola, where tens of thousands of Cuban soldiers were stationed, and over the decolonization of Namibia, Africa's last colony. Beyond lay the great prize: South Africa. Piero Gleijeses uses archival sources, particularly from the United States, South Africa, and the closed Cuban archives, to provide an unprecedented international history of this important theater of the late Cold War.

These sources all point to one conclusion: by humiliating the United States and defying the Soviet Union, Fidel Castro changed the course of history in southern Africa. It was Cuba's victory in Angola in 1988 that forced Pretoria to set Namibia free and helped break the back of apartheid South Africa. In the words of Nelson Mandela, the Cubans "destroyed the myth of the invincibility of the white oppressor . . . [and] inspired the fighting masses of South Africa."

About the Author

Piero Gleijeses is professor of American foreign policy at the School of Advanced International Studies at the Johns Hopkins University. He is author of Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976, among other books.


"A masterful scholarly inquiry."
--Noam Chomsky, Truthout

"Gleijeses’s eminently readable work is a major contribution to the historiography of the Cold War on one of its lesser-known fronts; it is diplomatic history at its finest and at its most compelling."
--International Affairs

"Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above."

“Provides a mirror that allows Americans, Cubans (and Russians) to see another reflection of their true self in the context of their foreign policy tussle in Africa.”
--Dissident Voice

“An extraordinary feat of scholarship that is painstakingly researched, cogently argued, and beautifully written. . . . This remarkable book provides a unique window on the processes of decolonization and the Cold War in Southern Africa. It will be an invaluable resource for scholars, students, and libraries for years to come.”
--H-Diplo Roundtable Review

“A multi-level analysis and international search for documentary sources woven into a detailed narrative.”
--Military History

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