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About the Book

Beyond the Book

584 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 26 halftones, notes, bibl., index

Paper
ISBN  978-1-4696-2660-4
Published: November 2015

Back Channel to Cuba

The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana

By William M. LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh

 
Updated paperback edition,
with a new epilogue

Awards & Distinctions

2015 Douglas Dillon Award, American Academy of Diplomacy

A Foreign Affairs Best Book of the Year

2016 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title

History is being made in U.S.-Cuban relations. Now in paperback and updated to tell the real story behind the stunning December 17, 2014, announcement by President Obama and President Castro of their move to restore full diplomatic relations, this powerful book is essential to understanding ongoing efforts toward normalization in a new era of engagement. Challenging the conventional wisdom of perpetual conflict and aggression between the United States and Cuba since 1959, Back Channel to Cuba chronicles a surprising, untold history of bilateral efforts toward rapprochement and reconciliation. William M. LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh here present a remarkably new and relevant account, describing how, despite the intense political clamor surrounding efforts to improve relations with Havana, negotiations have been conducted by every presidential administration since Eisenhower's through secret, back-channel diplomacy. From John F. Kennedy's offering of an olive branch to Fidel Castro after the missile crisis, to Henry Kissinger's top secret quest for normalization, to Barack Obama's promise of a new approach, LeoGrande and Kornbluh uncovered hundreds of formerly secret U.S. documents and conducted interviews with dozens of negotiators, intermediaries, and policy makers, including Fidel Castro and Jimmy Carter. They reveal a fifty-year record of dialogue and negotiations, both open and furtive, that provides the historical foundation for the dramatic breakthrough in U.S.-Cuba ties.

About the Author

William M. LeoGrande, professor of government at American University, is the author of Our Own Backyard: The United States in Central America, 1977-1992, among other books.

Peter Kornbluh, director of the Cuba Documentation Project at the National Security Archive in Washington, D.C., is the author of The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability, among other books.


Reviews

"Challenging the prevailing narrative of U.S.-Cuba relations, this book investigates the history of the secret, and often surprising, dialogue between Washington and Havana. . . . Suggest[s] that the past holds lessons for future negotiators."
--The New Yorker

"LeoGrande and Kornbluh's exhaustive and masterful diplomatic history will stand as the most authoritative account of U.S.-Cuban diplomatic relations during the five decades of Cuban President Fidel Castro's rule."
--Foreign Affairs

"Told in clear prose, this richly detailed book underscores how diplomacy makes headlines, but many exchanges happen far from official negotiation tables."
--Publishers Weekly, starred review

"A tour de force, Back Channel to Cuba never simplifies the complexity of the post-Revolution relationship between the United States and Cuba. The authors' virtuosity and enthusiastic vigor is reminiscent of John Le Carré as a political moralist while adhering to exacting scholarly standards."
--The American Conservative

"An exceedingly well-written and well-documented account. . . . Essential for libraries that support research into the political and diplomatic history of America foreign relations with Cuba in the latter half of the 20th century."
--Library Journal, starred review

“A rich and timely review of the background to the normalization recently achieved.”
--Studies in Intelligence



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