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Matanzas : The Cuba Nobody Knows

Matanzas : The Cuba Nobody Knows

"Bretos has not only conferred on his beloved Matanzas its rightful place in history but he has provided students and fans of Cuban history with a significant launching point into the future."--Miami Herald

"A marvelously well-researched and engagingly written combination of urban biography and personal autobiography. . . . Erudite and highly instructive, enormously enhanced with outstanding illustrations."--Choice Matanzas is the Cuban city nearest the United States. Located on the north shore of the island of Cuba, on the Bay of Matanzas, sandwiched between Havana and Varadero, it is a mere ninety miles from Florida. The "Athens of Cuba," as it was known in the heyday of the nineteenth-century slave-driven, sugar-based boom, Matanzas is renowned for its cultural heritage.It is the birthplace of the traditional romantic danzón--Cuba's national dance--and the sensual rhythmic guaguancó, a product of the city's preeminence as a hub of Afro-Cuban culture. Matanzas is the only foreign place in which an American vice president was sworn into office. Matanceros engaged in heavy commercial trading with Boston merchants for decades, exporting sugar and importing hard granite cobblestones to pave the streets. It is the place where Cuban baseball and modern Cuban art began. The city was home to the country's first building wired for electricity, the first electric street cars, and the first public library, --yet most Americans have never heard of it.Miguel Bretos's fascinating history of his hometown seeks to remedy that oversight. Bretos arrived in the United States at age eighteen, but his family retains close ties to the city where they lived for generations. From the aboriginal Taínos to the coming of revolution, Bretos unfolds the Matanzas story with solid research, wit, clarity, and the kind of vivid detail that can come only from an insider. Miguel A. Bretos is retired as senior scholar from the Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery and is the author of four books, including Cuba and Florida: An Exploration of a Historical Connection, 1593-1991.
Publication Date: 
October 9, 2011