The first book to establish hurricanes as a key factor in the development of modern Cuba, Winds of Change shows how these great storms played a decisive role in shaping the economy, the culture, and the nation during a critical century in the island's history.
Always vulnerable to hurricanes, Cuba was ravaged in 1842, 1844, and 1846 by three catastrophic storms, with staggering losses of life and property. Louis Perez combines eyewitness and literary accounts with agricultural data and economic records to show how important facets of the colonial political economy--among them, land tenure forms, labor organization, and production systems--and many of the social relationships at the core of Cuban society were transformed as a result of these and lesser hurricanes. He also examines the impact of repeated natural disasters on the development of Cuban identity and community. Bound together in the face of forces beyond their control, Cubans forged bonds of unity in their ongoing efforts to persevere and recover in the aftermath of destruction.