The Cuban Americans: From Trauma to Triumph

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In this insightful and fascinating survey of Cuban-American settlement in the United States, James and Judith Olson look at the unique Cuban-American identity - still intact, highly visible, and politically active - maintained by a people separated from their homeland by ideology and a mere 90 miles across the Straits of Florida. The Olsons point out that, more so than any other U.S. ethnic group, Cuban Americans have achieved a remarkable degree of demographic concentration, primarily settling in the Miami area,...
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Overview

In this insightful and fascinating survey of Cuban-American settlement in the United States, James and Judith Olson look at the unique Cuban-American identity - still intact, highly visible, and politically active - maintained by a people separated from their homeland by ideology and a mere 90 miles across the Straits of Florida. The Olsons point out that, more so than any other U.S. ethnic group, Cuban Americans have achieved a remarkable degree of demographic concentration, primarily settling in the Miami area, and have been among the most politically visible and the most economically successful of immigrant groups, considering that in the early 1990s they were among the most recent arrivals to the United States. The Olsons take a chronological approach to Cuban immigration, covering the origins of a Cuban culture in America, the early Cuban-American community here, Castro's 1955 revolution and reaction to it in Cuba and the United States, Cuban America in the 1950s, the "Golden Exiles" who entered the United States from 1959 to 1970, change and assimilation within the Cuban-American community from 1970 to 1980, immigrants from the Mariel boatlift, and, finally, Cuban America in 1995. Today, the Olsons note, American corporations and Cuban-American entrepreneurs stand poised to do business on the island the minute Castro's stranglehold gives way: hotels, cruise lines, airline companies, cable-television companies, and fast-food franchises are ready to bring capitalism and American popular culture back to Cuba. In the meantime, culturally, economically, and politically rich and bustling Cuban-American enclaves contribute to a unique, hybrid heritage that may one day be returned to Cuba but with a character distinctly its own.
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