Since 1959, the government of the Caribbean island of Cuba, 90 miles away from the United States of America, has defied its powerful neighbor. The story of the improbable survival of the Cuban Revolutionary Government in its struggle against the most powerful country in the world has kept international attention on Cuba for more than half a century; but it has also overshadowed the brilliance of the hybrid culture developed in the island since the Spanish conquerors brought Western civilization to the Americas 500 years ago. Rafael E. Tarragó pays due attention to the first four hundred years after the arrival of the Spaniards in the island, showing that a Cuban nation had developed from the European and African settlers with the indigenous population before the creation of the Cuban Republic in 1902. He describes the accomplishments and failures of that Republic that made possible the rise of the Cuban Revolutionary Government. He concludes with a look at accomplishments and the shortcomings of that self-proclaimed Marxist-Leninist government; its troubled relation with the United States; and the global revolutionary mission that it has embraced since its inception. Understanding Cuba as a Nation is a detailed yet accessibly written exploration of the history of Cuba since the Spanish conquest of 1511 that illustrates the development of the Cuban nation, and summarizes the accomplishments of Cubans since the 16th century in the arts, literature, and science.