I'd like to read a book about Castro's Cuba.
September 8, 2006 9:02 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to read a book about Castro's Cuba.

I’d like to read a book about Cuba.

Not about, like, their cash crops or whatever, but about how Castro got power and how he’s held it for all these years. How his regime has affected the Cuban people and how it’s affected Cuba’s international relations. Things like that.

I want it to be interesting bedtime reading. Even an historical fiction book would be cool.

I don’t want it to read like something I would have been assigned to read in high school social studies.

Any suggestions?
posted by misanthropicsarah to Society & Culture (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Jorge Edwards' book Persona Non Grata is along the lines of what you're looking for, and it's a great book. It has less about the history of Castro coming to power, and much more about the affects on Cuban society by the 1970s. Edwards' was a diplomat from Allende's Chile who was sent to Cuba while he was still very positive about the revolution there. His time there was marred by all kinds of interactions with the totalitarianism that characterizes the state, and he gradually became very disenchanted. The story is familiar from Koestler's memoirs of Soviet Russia, but it's an interesting read every time someone as Socialist as Edwards ends up disenchanted as he did.

I think the book is a pretty crucial read for liberals in the US who might be otherwise enchanted with Cuba as a Socialist state. (Count me in that group.)
posted by OmieWise at 9:46 AM on September 8, 2006

Here's a post I made on another AskMe and another about books covering Cuba's history and daily life there, centering on the Castro years and those leading up to them.

Really, anything by L.A. Perez is going to be a good read; he covers all the background thoroughly, explains history as we know it and what made it turn out the way it did, and covers the impacts it had on daily life from food to music and family. Some of the books are more "academic" than others, but I haven't read anything of any length from him that I felt was a waste of my time.
posted by whatzit at 11:15 AM on September 8, 2006

Check out Fidel Castro and the Quest for a Revolutionary Culture in Cuba. It was written by Julie Bunck, whose comparative politics course I took while working on my MA in political science. It really goes into impressive detail about Castro's rise to power and focuses on his attempts to change Cuban culture, discussing why some were more successful than others. Not a very well-known book, but well written and informative nonetheless.
posted by jtfowl0 at 11:21 AM on September 8, 2006

It may not be exactly what you're looking for, but the Dirty Havana Trilogy paints a detailed picture of life in Castro's Cuba.
posted by dshargel at 11:35 AM on September 8, 2006

Real Life in Castro's Cuba by Catherine Moses is short and readable. She is writing about the worse part of the "special period," the mid-90s, when the Cuban economy collapsed with the withdrawal of Russian aid. I had my students read the book before I took them to Cuba in 2003 and they found it readable.
posted by LarryC at 1:50 PM on September 8, 2006

Finding Manana is a memoir of the Mariel boatlift by a woman who was a teenager at the time and eventually became a New York Times reporter. It has a personal perspective on what life was like, but also a lot of historical fact.

If you're feeling ambitious, Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life (by New Yorker reporter Jon Lee Anderson is the major biography of Guevara and is thorough on the Cuban Revolution. Of course there's a lot about Guevara's life before Castro, too.
posted by Airhen at 7:43 PM on September 8, 2006

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