Recent Reviews and Commentary for Health Politics and Revolution in Cuba
“An exceptionally informative and original study of public
health in Cuba that encompasses both its historical dimensions
and the developments under Castro. Based on personal experience, field study and archival research the author
examines and demolishes the myths of unprecedented
improvements under Castro (largely based on official statistics) which
have been widely and uncritically accepted outside Cuba. This
volume also provides a revealing grass roots portrait of
Cuban society that benefits from the author’s extensive personal
contacts and experiences during her stay there.”
--Paul Hollander, author of Political Pilgrims, Western Intellectuals in Search of the Good Society.
"The Cuban health care system has long been applauded within the international health community for its equitable, efficient provision of superior care and its enviable health status indicators. Therefore, it is surprising to learn in this ethnographic account by a US medical anthropologist that the Castro government has apparently been cooking the books. In chapters 1-4, Hirschfeld (University of Oklahoma) describes her problem-fraught experience of fieldwork (and personal illness) in Cuba in the late 1990s, an account informed by observations on gender, social structure, economics, and kinship, as well as health. Her idealistic preconceptions dashed by ‘discrepancies between rhetoric and reality,’ she observes a repressive, bureaucratized and secretive system, long on ‘militarization’ and short on patients’ rights, with state-employed ‘family doctors’ responsible not only for health but also for exposing political dissent. No less compelling is the ‘revisionist history’ of chapters 5-10, in which the author, resorting to historical documents, concludes that the regime did foster public health gains after 1959, but concomitantly manipulated both health statistics and the impact of earlier US involvement in Cuba to highlight the 1959 revolution’s alleged successes. A revealing and persuasive glimpse into public health under socialism. Highly recommended.”
--Choice Magazine, Reviews for Academic LIbraries, 2007
"...You have described with an unusual insight the core of problems of the Cuban Health Care System. You were not evading the problematic relationship between the regime as a whole and the usual daily experience of normal Cubans with their health care system. To be honest, I am also impressed by the fact that such a...study about a communist system is written by a westerner... Great job."
--Jan Tracta, MD Czech Republic 2007