In 1866, worn out by fighting in the American Civil War, the writer Samuel Hazard arrived in Cuba to begin work on a guidebook to the island. Over a period of several months, as his health recovered, he travelled throughout what was then still a Spanish colony, observing and recording daily life. The result is one of the most complete and evocative portrayals of colonial Cuban life, written in the decade when the first concerted struggle for independence was already under way. Hazard's sympathies were clearly with the pro-independence "patriots", but his main aim was to produce a complete overview of the island's sights and customs, aimed at visitors. He is informative on hotels, restaurants, and transport and sightseeing, but is also intrigued by the people he meets and the idiosyncrasies of Cuban social life. Illustrated with hundreds of the author's own sketches, "Cuba with Pen and Pencil" takes the reader through the historic fortresses and mansions of Havana, the tropical city of Santiago de Cuba and the plantations and mountains of the island's countryside.
With a keen and often quirky eye for detail, Hazard explores the sugar industry - still largely powered by slave labour - and Cuba's other economic activities. He describes the island's flora and fauna, its varied topography, and its varied social life, ranging from upper-class balls to slave compounds. First published in 1871 and now reissued with an introduction by acclaimed historian Richard Gott, "Cuba with Pen and Pencil" is a unique portrait of an island and a society on the eve of fundamental and historic change.