From now on, we'll occasionally be featuring not just written but oral interviews on the blog, with authors of recent books dealing with New York City history. The series is a partnership with the New Books Network, a consortium of academic podcast channels whose very admirable goal is, like ours here at The Gotham Center, to raise the level of public discourse by introducing serious research to much wider audiences than normally get scholarly work. The largest academic podcasting organization in the country, NBN publishes 100 new interviews every month, with more than 9 million downloads yearly.
Click below to hear the first episode, on Lisandro Perez's Sugar, Cigars and Revolution: The Making of Cuban New York.
Perez tells the story of a vibrant Cuban émigré community in nineteenth century New York City that ranged from wealthy sugar plantation owners to working-class Cubans cigar makers in Lower Manhattan. Cubans in New York had their own businesses, newspapers, and clubs, and many were involved in the struggle to liberate Cuba from colonial Spain. Among those New York-based political activists was the great hero and poet Jose Marti, who lived most of his adult life here. In fact, Perez asserts that New York was the most important city in the U.S. for Cubans until 1960, when Miami became the destination for Cubans fleeing communism.