Cover image for Fatal glory : Narciso López and the first clandestine U.S. War against Cuba
Fatal glory : Narciso López and the first clandestine U.S. War against Cuba
Chaffin, Tom.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Charlottesville : University Press of Virginia, [1996]

Physical Description:
xxii, 282 pages, 10 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, map ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F1783 .C44 1996 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Until now, the story of Narciso Lopez's daring invasions of Cuba has remained one of the great lost sagas of American history. Wildly famous during the mid-nineteenth century as the leader of a filibuster, a clandestine army, Lopez led the first armed challenge to Spain's long domination over Cuba. While U.S. historians have tended to view Lopez as an agent of pre-Civil War southern expansionism, Tom Chaffin reveals a broader, more complicated picture. Although many southerners did assist Lopez, the web of intrigue that sustained his conspiracy also included New York City, steamship magnates, penny press editors, Cuban industrialists, and nothern Democratic urban bosses.

Drawn from archives in both the United States and Cuba and enlivened by first-person accounts and reports from federal "special agents" assigned to spy on Lopez, Fatal Glory holds appeal for both scholars and the general reader with an interest in Cuba, U.S. foreign policy, or the U.S. sectional crisis of the 1850s.

Author Notes

Tom Chaffin teaches U.S. history and is Director of the Emory Oral History Project at Emory University. His work has appeared in both scholarly and general publications, including Nation, Progressive, New York Times, and Audubon magazine.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Chaffin presents the intriguing story surrounding attempts by Narciso Lopez to create a Cuban revolution. Important military and political figures were involved in the attempted invasions of Cuba in the early 1850s. Chaffin describes how Lopez raised political support, funds, and personnel in the US and then tried to precipitate a revolution against the Spanish government. Because most accounts dealing with the belief in manifest destiny and filibustering have focused on Central America and Mexico, this book will be a useful addition to the existing literature on manifest destiny, slavery, and filibustering. The author draws from wide-ranging sources to demonstrate the varied, and very complicated, US attitudes toward national expansion and the expansion of slavery. A great many northerners supported filibustering while many southerners, especially Louisiana sugar producers, did not. Chaffin's reading of the period indicates that in economics and politics, filibustering created many strange alliances in the 15 years before the Civil War. He also reinforces connections between Mexican War and Civil War participants and the movement for a Cuban insurrection. The text is somewhat jumbled because references to prior individual and situational history are often presented outside the chronological account. Upper-division undergraduates and above. L. E. Babits East Carolina University