Pleasure Island: Tourism and Temptation in Cuba

Overview


Pleasure Island explores the tourism industry in Cuba between 1920 and 1960, as international travel ceased to be primarily a privilege of the wealthy, incorporating the world's growing middle class. Rosalie Schwartz examines tourists' changing ideas of leisure and recreation, as well as the response of a colonial-era Spanish city turned fleshpot and endless cabaret. The tourism industry mushroomed in and around Havana after 1920, as hundreds of thousands of North Americans transformed the city in collaboration ...
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Overview


Pleasure Island explores the tourism industry in Cuba between 1920 and 1960, as international travel ceased to be primarily a privilege of the wealthy, incorporating the world's growing middle class. Rosalie Schwartz examines tourists' changing ideas of leisure and recreation, as well as the response of a colonial-era Spanish city turned fleshpot and endless cabaret. The tourism industry mushroomed in and around Havana after 1920, as hundreds of thousands of North Americans transformed the city in collaboration with a local business and political elite. The Depression, exacerbated by a bloody revolution in 1933, plunged the tourism industry into a downward spiral; its steady comeback after World War II, and its Mafia-influenced 1950s heyday, ended abruptly when Fidel Castro came to power in 1959. The tourist stream was diverted to Cuba's Caribbean neighbors, where it remains.
 
This work is a history of a very idiosyncratic industry, as well as a study of mass tourism's influence on the behavior, attitudes, and cultures of two politically linked but diverse nations.
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Editorial Reviews

Miami Herald

"In her scholarly but often fascinating study, Schwartz examines the changing ideas of leisure and recreation in Havana, the ‘Paris of the Antilles’ to which U.S. tourists thronged for its forbidden enticements and never-ending cabaret. Schwartz’s report is heavily tinged with politics, of course, but high spirits and nostalgia also seep from its pages."—Miami Herald
Choice

"Pleasingly written and carefully documented . . . [Schwartz] offers a valuable perspective on the present. . . . Today, Cuba’s socialist leadership is confronted with conundrums not so different from those faced by its capitalist predecessors: how to present Cuba to its international visitors, address internal pressures arising from mass tourism, and survive in the shadow of U.S. power. Schwartz details how ‘Cuba’ has repeatedly been reconfigured from the 1900s to the present, while the image of Caribbean exoticism has survived the whims of fashion and a century of drastic changes."—Choice
Library Journal
The first of these works is a guidebookand an excellent one at that. Baker, who has traveled extensively in Cuba and written other guidebooks and magazine articles, gives a general introduction to his subject, with tips on getting to Cuba, hotels, money, and all the usual things one expects from a guide. But his book has a special twist for Americans because of the embargo. After introductory material on history, flora and fauna, the Helms-Burton bill, Castro, and many, many other topics, the book is organized by region, with maps, hotels, tips on getting there, etc. This excellent work is one of the most thorough guidebooks this reviewer has ever seen. Highly recommended. The author of two other works on Latin America, Schwartz has written not a guidebook but a well-researched description of tourism in Cuba, mainly from the Twenties to the Sixties. The emphasis is on American tourists, the most numerous until Castro, and the history is chronological, showing how World Wars I and II affected Cuban industry. Schwartz describes the Mafia influence and the state of tourism since Castro, and she also considers how tourism affects a country, any country, which makes interesting reading. An excellent history that should have broad appeal, this is scholarly but not dull.George M. Jenks, Bucknell Univ., Lewisburg, PA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803292659
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/1999
  • Pages: 247
  • Product dimensions: 0.61 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Rosalie Schwartz taught history at San Diego State University and is the author of Lawless Liberators: Political Banditry and Cuban Independence, winner of the 1990 Hubert Herring Book Prize.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction: The Tourist Drama
1 Act 1: The Road to Cuba 1
2 Public Works, Politics, Property: The Action behind the Scrim 16
3 Tempests and Tourists, Dreamers and Schemers 39
4 Tourism Triumphant 54
5 Manufactured Traditions and Cultural Transformations 74
6 Culture and Casinos, Museums and Monte Carlos: Cast Changes and Script Revisions 88
7 Intermission in Cuba and a Sea Change in Tourism 103
8 Blue Water, Green Money: Act 2, Curtain Up 117
9 Shady Business in the Tropical Sun: The Mafia and Gambling 134
10 Batista Stages a Tourist Boom 147
11 The Tourist Stage as Rebel Battleground 164
12 No Peace, No Pleasure, No Tourists 180
13 Act 3: The Phoenix Rises 204
Notes 213
Selected Bibliography 227
Index 233
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