Visions of Freedom

Havana, Washington, Pretoria, and the Struggle for Southern Africa, 1976-1991

By Piero Gleijeses

672 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 31 halftones, 9 maps, notes, bibl., index

Not for sale in South African region

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-2832-5
    Published: February 2016
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-0969-0
    Published: November 2013
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-4547-4
    Published: November 2013

New Cold War History

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Awards & distinctions

2014 Friedrich Katz Prize, American Historical Association

During the final fifteen years of the Cold War, southern Africa underwent a period of upheaval, with dramatic twists and turns in relations between the superpowers. Americans, Cubans, Soviets, and Africans fought over the future of Angola, where tens of thousands of Cuban soldiers were stationed, and over the decolonization of Namibia, Africa's last colony. Beyond lay the great prize: South Africa. Piero Gleijeses uses archival sources, particularly from the United States, South Africa, and the closed Cuban archives, to provide an unprecedented international history of this important theater of the late Cold War.

These sources all point to one conclusion: by humiliating the United States and defying the Soviet Union, Fidel Castro changed the course of history in southern Africa. It was Cuba's victory in Angola in 1988 that forced Pretoria to set Namibia free and helped break the back of apartheid South Africa. In the words of Nelson Mandela, the Cubans "destroyed the myth of the invincibility of the white oppressor . . . [and] inspired the fighting masses of South Africa."

About the Author

Piero Gleijeses is professor of American foreign policy at the School of Advanced International Studies at the Johns Hopkins University. He is author of Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976, among other books.
For more information about Piero Gleijeses, visit the Author Page.


“Gleijeses’s massively researched and provocative study of the complex relationship between Cuba, the United States, and South Africa enhances his reputation as one of the leading scholars of international relations.”--Journal of American History

“A comprehensive, informative account.”—Journal of Latin American Studies

"A masterful scholarly inquiry."—Noam Chomsky, Truthout

"Gleijeses’s eminently readable work is a major contribution to the historiography of the Cold War on one of its lesser-known fronts; it is diplomatic history at its finest and at its most compelling."—International Affairs

"Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above."—Choice

“Provides a mirror that allows Americans, Cubans (and Russians) to see another reflection of their true self in the context of their foreign policy tussle in Africa.”—Dissident Voice