Pérez, Louis A. in The war of 1898

The historical and historiographic comparison of the US and Cuba

The historical and historiographic comparison of the US and Cuba. (University of North Carolina Press, 1998) explores the significance of the conflict that occurred in 1898 in greater detail. He analyzes the history as it has been presented in American historical writing over the past century and contrasts it with the alternative history presented by Cuban sources. Cuba was battling for freedom from Spain in the late nineteenth century. America interfered because it was interested in the island. The action turned into a crusade for humanity on behalf of the Cuban people. (Louis, 10). Louis’ thesis is an analysis of factors that lay beneath the construction of history including the United States’ interest in controlling the sovereignty of Cuba.

Louis’ sources

Louis’ has used a number of sources to support his thesis. Since the book is about history, majority of the sources are from referencing historical literature. He uses material from both and Cuba and America so as to get a deeper understanding of what really happened in during the war. A large portion of his work is drawn with some modifications. He relies on an extensive historiography analysis of American and Cuban writers (Louis, 25). Commemorative anniversaries of the war between Spain and the United States have led to the publication of many books which Louis’ uses as sources for his book. Moreover, Louis’ also refers to three of his earlier publications.

The United States as a colonial power

To prove his thesis, Louis discusses how the United States emerged from the war as a colonial power. It seized the remnants of the Spanish empire in the Caribbean and Pacific. It acquired territories during the war and conquest without any hesitation. It was Cuba that was mattered most to the United States (Louis, 78). In 1823, Thomas Jefferson wrote to James Monroe expressing the interest of the U.S to annex Cuba to be part of it.

Failed attempts to buy Cuba

Additionally, the United States had tried to buy Cuba a number of times. In 1848, James Polk offered $100 million for the island. Franklin Pierce offered $130 million six year later but did not succeed. The United States was convinced that the ownership of the island should either be in the hands of Spain or the United States. This led to war between the two powers (Louis, 54). The triumph over Cuba appeared inevitable and later negotiations between Spain and The United States were held.

The Cuban participation and presence during the war

In the quest to acquire the island, the war between Spain and America denied the Cuban participation and presence. The Cubans were only a mere audience as the sovereignty of the country passed from Spain to the United States. Cuban troops during the sixty-day were not allowed to make any contribution (Louis, 69). Therefore, the United States acquired the territory by military force without the consent of the governed. This was not compatible with the principles of constitutional and civil liberties.


In conclusion, the war in 1898 led to both decisive and defining outcomes. Most historiographies from the U.S commemorate this as the moment the nation projected itself as a world power. Louis’ thesis in this book was valid and proven. Acquiring Cuba through war with the Spanish made the United States emerge as a colonial power. This book is a valuable contribution to our understanding of what lies beneath garnering of power and the construction of history.

Work Cited

Pérez, Louis A. The war of 1898: The United States and Cuba in history and historiography. University of North Carolina Press, 1998.

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