This journey into contemporary Cuba by Alex Harris is a powerful and mysterious evocation of life on the island. In the foreground of Harris' photographs and text are some of the archetypes of contemporary Cuban life: the indomitable 1950s American car, the beautiful young woman, and the revered revolutionary hero, Jose Marti, a repeated icon in Harris' photographs and the focus of his text. Indeed, Marti is at the heart of this book, a visual and textual mantra, giving us insight into the Cuban national character and helping us to understand what gives Cubans - on the island or in exile - their enduring strength and their hope for the future. In her accompanying personal essay, Yale historian Lillian Guerra confronts the paradox of Cuba from a different perspective. An American daughter of Cuban exiles, she has visited the island repeatedly to conduct research and to try to understand what it means to be Cuban.
Alex Harris is professor of documentary studies at Duke University and a founder of the Center for Documentary Studies and of Double Take magazine. He is the author or editor of a dozen books, including River of Traps (UNM Press) with William deBuys. Lillian Guerra is assistant professor of Caribbean history at Yale University. She is the author of The Myth of Jose Marti: Conflicting Nationalisms in Early Twentieth-Century Cuba.