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For over fifty years relations between the United States and Cuba have been antagonistic, with each side blaming the other for the continuing impasse. This Caribbean Cold War has seen an unsuccessful armed invasion of Cuba (popularly known as the Bay of Pigs invasion), the threat of nuclear war between the US and the USSR (the ‘Cuban missile crisis’), and an intensifying series of measures by the US government to reverse the Cuban social and political revolution of the 1960s. Since the early nineteenth century Washington has sought to control Cuba; and the US conditions for relaxing its pressure on present-day Cuba continue this tradition, itself part of a broader ideology (often short-handed as the Monroe Doctrine) which sees the western hemisphere as America's legitimate and exclusive ‘sphere of interest’. This article examines a number of recent works dealing both with the US–Cuban relationship, placing this relationship in historical and geopolitical contexts, and with the impact on Cuban society of the economic crisis of the 1990s caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union.