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Beyond the Book

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

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."

"A deeply satisfying work. Gleijeses organizes a dazzling array of data to explain why events unfolded as they did. No one has done this better. No one has even come close."
--Lars G. Schoultz, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"A remarkable achievement. Once again, Piero Gleijeses brings his impressive forensic skills and his ability to drill down into documents to see the bigger picture to offer a transnational history that never once loses its focus (as too often is the case in studies claiming to 'decenter' the Cold War). This book will force a fundamental rethinking of how we conceive of the struggle for freedom from colonial and neocolonial rule in southern Africa, and Cuba's role in helping to win it."
--Greg Grandin, New York University

"Based on unsurpassed multi-archival research, Piero Gleijeses rewrites the international history of southern Africa in the 1970s and 1980s and sharpens our understanding of the policies of the United States and the Soviet Union. No other historian has had comparable access to Cuban documents and no scholar has written so compellingly about Castro's motives and goals. And thanks to Gleijeses, those records will now be available to others. A terrific contribution!"
--Melvyn P. Leffler, University of Virginia

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