You are here

The Mambi-Land, or Adventures of a Herald Correspondent in Cuba

A Critical Edition
James J. O'Kelly. Edited by Jennifer Brittan

BUY Cloth · 344 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813946924 · $115.00 · Jan 2022
BUY Paper · 344 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813946931 · $44.50 · Jan 2022
BUY Ebook · 344 pp. · ISBN 9780813946948 · $33.50 · Jan 2022

In late 1872, the New York Herald named James J. O’Kelly its special correspondent to Cuba, to cover what would later be known as the Ten Years’ War. O’Kelly was tasked with crossing Spanish lines, locating the insurgent camps, and interviewing the president of the Cuban republic, Carlos Manuel de Céspedes. O’Kelly became a political lightning rod when, after fulfilling his mission, he was arrested, court-martialed, and threatened with execution in Spanish Cuba. For the book that followed, The Mambi-Land, or Adventures of a Herald Correspondent in Cuba, O’Kelly assembled edited versions of the eighteen dispatches he sent to the Herald, some written in the remotest imaginable places in the Cuban interior.

The Mambi-Land constitutes the first book-length account of Cuba’s Ten Years’ War for independence from Spain (1868–1878) and provides a window on an understudied moment in U.S.-Cuba relations. More than recovering an important lost work, this critical edition draws attention to Cuba’s crucial place in American national consciousness in the post–Civil War period and represents a timely and significant contribution to our understanding of the complicated history of Cuba-U.S. relations.


The Ten Years’ War, Cuba’s first war for independence from Spain, occurs at a moment in which U.S. interest in the annexation of Cuba is high. At the same time, the U.S. is in the middle of Reconstruction; slavery—and specifically abolition—is one of the issues at the heart of Cuba’s independence struggle. O’Kelly’s narrative provides a key firsthand account of this complex moment from the epicenter of the conflict.

Emily A. Maguire, Northwestern University, author of Racial Experiments in Cuban Literature and Ethnography

Interested in this topic?
Stay updated with our newsletters:

Related Books