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Book and Media Reviews
June 15, 2011

The Cuban Cure: Reason and Resistance in Global Science

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: University of El Salvador School of Medicine, San Salvador, El Salvador (wventres@gmail.com).

JAMA. 2011;305(23):2469-2472. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.840

The Cuban Cure is the story of how Cuba's biotechnology industry has developed over the past 30 years. Author Simon Reid-Henry, a young British geographer, weaves together strands of history, politics, economics, geography, and biomedical science to tell the fascinating story of this development.

This studied academic analysis reads like a political thriller for intellectuals. The tale begins during the height of the Cold War, during which 2 ideologies competed to dominate world consciousness. It continues through the fall of the Eastern Bloc and the remaking of a Cuban nationalist identity, one no longer dependent on Soviet largesse but still under economic embargo by the United States. The setting is an island roughly the size of Tennessee and 90 miles from Florida, one that has had a political influence disproportionate to its size on its much larger neighbor to the north. The characters, among others, include revolutionary leaders Ernesto “Che” Guevara and Fidel Castro, former Missouri Senator (and later US Attorney General) John Ashcroft, ex-President Jimmy Carter, several Cuban and Western biological scientists, and—in a role much like that of a Greek chorus, outlining the rules of the game—an array of representatives of the worldwide biotechnology industry.

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