Vicki Huddleston's Off-Topic Reads

May 4th, 2018

Ambassador Vicki Huddleston served under Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush as Chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana. She also served as U.S. Ambassador to Madagascar and Mali. Her report for the Brookings Institution about normalizing relations with Cuba was adapted for President Obama's diplomatic opening with Raúl Castro in 2014. She has written opinion pieces in the New York Times, Miami Herald, and Washington Post. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Ambassador Huddleston will discuss her new book Our Woman in Havana on Friday, 5/11, 6pm at the Co-op.

Our Man in Havana, by Graham Greene

Harbor of Spies, by Robin Lloyd

The Tailor of Panama, by Le Carre

A Vindication of the Rights of Women, by Mary Wolstonecraft

About Our Woman in Havana: A longtime insider’s unprecedented look behind the “Sugar Curtain” during America’s long standoff with communist Cuba, by “one of this generation’s finest diplomats” (Ambassador Joseph Wilson)

Our Woman in Havana chronicles the past several decades of U.S.-Cuba relations from the bird’s-eye view of State Department veteran and longtime Cuba hand Vicki Huddleston, our top diplomat on the ground in Havana under Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush.

After the U.S. embassy in Havana was closed in 1961, relations between the countries ground to a halt. In 1977, the U.S. established the U.S. Interests Section to serve as a de facto embassy. Ambassador Huddleston’s spirited and compelling memoir about her time as a diplomat in Havana and beyond takes the reader through some of the most tense and dramatic years of Castro’s Cuba, from her first days going face-to-face with Fidel Castro, pressing to improve relations and allow hundreds of thousands of Americans to visit Cuba, to the present day, as she peers forward to the future of the relationship. She writes incisively about the Elián González custody saga and the post 9-11 decision to use Guantánamo as a prison for terror suspects, and addresses the up-to-the-minute, mysterious “sonic” brain and hearing injuries suffered by U.S. and Canadian diplomats who were serving in Havana. 

Our Woman in Havana tells the story of missed opportunities, and of mistakes, misconceptions, and lies that make up the last several decades of U.S.-Cuba relations. Ambassador Huddleston is uniquely positioned to address the inner workings of the relationship, especially crucial now, as Raúl Castro is scheduled to step down in 2018 and President Trump has not yet made clear how far he will undo Obama’s reconnection with Cuba. Our Woman in Havana is essential reading for everyone interested in the nuances and challenges of international policy-making and in the U.S.-Cuba relationship―past, present, and future.

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