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Director of Auburn University’s Honors College and associate professor of history, Tiffany A. Sippial, has authored a new book, Celia Sánchez Manduley: The Life and Legacy of a Cuban Revolutionary, which will be released by the University of North Carolina Press on Jan. 20.

Sippial spent more than 20 years seeking access to the high-security Cuban archive in Havana that holds Sánchez’s diary and correspondence. Her wish was finally granted, and her almost unprecedented access to Sánchez’s papers allowed her to write the first critical biography of the Cuban Revolution’s most influential female leader.

Sánchez is revered within Cuba as the “first guerrilla of the Sierra Maestra,” as Fidel Castro’s primary confidant and as the Cuban Revolution’s staunchest loyalist. Celia Sánchez Manduley: The Life and Legacy of a Cuban Revolutionary opens a new window onto the consciousness of this notoriously private woman, revealing how Sánchez strategically crafted her own legacy within a history still dominated by men. Sippial engages cultural history, the politics of memory and the tools of feminist biography to explore Sánchez’s life and legacy. She examines Sánchez’s struggles with violence, her political development and the sacrifices she made as she evolved from an organizer and combatant to the highest-ranking woman within the post-revolutionary Cuban government.

Readers steeped in the history of the Cuban Revolution—and those new to it—will better understand why those events mattered and continue to matter. They will also discover how Sánchez became a symbol of that revolution’s ideals.