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Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba: The Biography of a Cause Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 4, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult (September 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067001978X
  • ASIN: B001TK3XPO
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #312,162 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The commonplace view of Cuba's prerevolutionary business establishment as a corrupt kleptocracy is revised in this intriguing history of the Bacardi rum company and its involvement in Cuban politics. NPR correspondent Gjelten (Sarajevo Daily) paints the 146-year-old distiller, once an icon of Cuban industry, as a model corporate citizen—efficient, innovative, socially responsible and union-tolerant. Its leaders were pillars of nationalist politics, he contends: company president Emilio Bacardi was a leader of Cuba's rebellion against Spain, and in the 1950s CEO José Bosch helped fund Castro's insurrection. (After Castro nationalized Bacardi's Cuban holdings, Bosch started funding anti-Castro exiles.) Bacardi's image as Cuban-nationalism-in-a-bottle becomes farcical when the company, now a multinational behemoth, fights an absurd court battle with Cuba's state rum company over the Havana Club trademark. But Gjelten's account of a liberal, progressive Cuban business clan complicates and enriches the conventional picture of a society torn between right and left dictatorships. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

Facundo Bacardi, who founded the eponymous rum company in 1862, came to Cuba from Spain as a teen-ager. By the turn of the century, as Gjelten lucidly recounts, the distilling operation that Facundo had begun in a shed was among the brands most closely identified with Cuba, and the Bacardis became inextricably entangled with the nations history. Facundo?s eldest son, Emilio, fought to overthrow the Spanish, thus inaugurating the firms long tradition of promoting revolutionary and progressive politics. But the Bacardis, despite their enthusiastic support for Castros revolution, were forced into exile in Miami in the nineteen-sixties; benevolent capitalists had no place in the new Cuban paradigm. Today, the family owns a multibillion-dollar global corporation that contributes heavily to the Republican Party.
Copyright ©2008Click here to subscribe to The New Yorker

More About the Author

TOM GJELTEN is a veteran correspondent for NPR News, specializing in national security and international affairs. His overseas reporting experience include stints in Mexico City as NPR's Latin America correspondent from 1986 to 1990 and in Berlin as Central Europe correspondent from 1990 to 1994. During those years, he covered the wars in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Colombia, as well as the Gulf War of 1990-1991 and the wars in Croatia and Bosnia.

With other NPR correspondents, Gjelten described the transitions to democracy and capitalism in Eastern Europe and the breakup of the Soviet Union. His reporting from Sarajevo from 1992 to 1994 was the basis for his book Sarajevo Daily: A City and Its Newspaper Under Siege (HarperCollins), praised by the New York Times as "a chilling portrayal of a city's slow murder. He is also the author of Professionalism in War Reporting: A Correspondent's View (Carnegie Corporation) and a contributor to Crimes of War: What the Public Should Know (W. W. Norton).

Prior to his current assignment, Gjelten covered U.S. diplomacy and military affairs, first from the State Department and then from the Pentagon. He was reporting live from the Pentagon at the moment it was hit on September 11, 2001, and he was NPR's lead Pentagon reporter during the war in Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq. Gjelten has also reported extensively from Cuba in recent years, visiting the island more than a dozen times. His new book, Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba: The Biography of a Cause (Viking), is a unique history of modern Cuba, told through the life and times of the Bacardi rum family. The book was selected by the New York Times as a "Notable Nonfiction Book of 2008" and it was named a "Best Book of the Year" by the Washington Post, the Kansas City Star, and the San Francisco Chronicle."

Since joining NPR in 1982 as labor and education reporter, Gjelten has won numerous awards for his work. His 1992 series "From Marx to Markets," documenting the transition to market economics in Eastern Europe, won an Overseas Press Club award for "Best Business or Economic Reporting in Radio or TV." His coverage of the wars in the former Yugoslavia earned Gjelten the Overseas Press Club's Lowell Thomas Award, a George Polk Award, and a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. He was part of the NPR teams that won an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton for Sept. 11 coverage and a George Foster Peabody Award for coverage of the war in Iraq.

In addition to reporting for NPR, Gjelten is a regular panelist on the PBS program Washington Week. For more information, visit www.tomgjelten.com.

Customer Reviews

Reading through the book I had to marvel how so many people could be so good over so many years.
Joseph D. Policano
So if anything, this book is about adversity, and how to triumph over it, both personally and in business.
Newton Ooi
This book is an excellent, well written history lesson wrapped around the lives of the Bacardi family.
Edward J. Gonzalez

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Rooster on April 22, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This review is for the Kindle edition. The book is extremely well written. However, the Kindle edition, which is priced at only $2.50 less than the print edition, is a mess.

The Bacardí Family tree which appears at the beginning of the book is illegible. It appears legibly for less than a second and then fades to light gray. Unusable.

Nearly every time the name of Jose Martí appears, it has been conjoined with the word that follows it. "Martí published" becomes "Martípublished". There are some 64+ occurrences such as this. It becomes more than tiresome.

Also, there are ZERO photographs included in the Kindle edition. Mr.Gjelten did a grand job writing this book, but whoever Kindilized it did a pathetic job. Buy the print version.
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Joseph D. Policano on October 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a terrific book. It tells the tale of 150 years of Cuban and Bacardi history without burdening you with more facts, personalities , and anecdotes than you need to understand the company. In addition to the story of th Bacardi family it is a fast overview of how and why Cuba got to where it is today. Like most good
journalists,the author can compress a story yet give you the feeling that you know all the important stuff that needs to be known. The Bacardi family and company (it is still privately owned)certainly ranks as one of the most interesting and liberal I have ever come across reading about big businesses. They were not Johnnies come lately in the battle for Cuban freedom both from Spain and the native born dictators who followed after the American invaders left the island. They supported and financed the
Castro revolution and then had to flee the country when he turned into a communist dictator. They then fought him from the Bay of Pigs to this day.
At a time when Cuban workers were exploited under Spain and then under Cuban dictators, Bacardi seems to have been an enlightened employer providing its workers with benefits and security far beyond others.When one remembers that the company prospered under a series of ruthless and corrupt dictators who turned Havanna into a mafia controlled enclave, they seem all the more incredible that they could remain clean while they had so much mud around them In fact, with the exception of the rare philanderer or less than bright family member, the Bacardi family over this 150 year time span seems extraordinary for their compassion, accomplishments, and sense of duty and honor. Perhaps too extraordinary. Reading through the book I had to marvel how so many people could be so good over so many years.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jose Sotolongo on November 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Tom Gjelten is a reporter for National Public Radio, with extensive background in foreign affairs. He shows is skill in understanding international relations with this masterful history of Cuba, from colonial days to the present. This is a beautifully documented history, with footnotes, a detailed list of sources, and a comprehensive index.

The history of the Cuban nation is interwoven with the history of the Bacardi family, from the first Catalan immigrant, Facundo Bacardi, to the present diaspora living in exile (except for Gilda and Gustavin, who I happened to know as a child, and who were and are sympathizers of the Castro regime and are still in Cuba). He dutifully relates the sequence of presidents and dictators of the island, with the social and political background of each regime. This may sound dull and perhaps too academic, but the struggle of the family throughout the history of the island gives it a personal and involving dimension.

In the last chapter, Gjelten speaks to the dynamics of the present political situation of Cuba, both from the point of view of the exile community, as well as from the needs of the post-Castro Cuban nation. This makes the book an important resource for anyone interested in being involved, either emotionally or in a practical, active way, in the future Cuba.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Natacha Pelaez Wagner on December 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Outstanding book!

My father was an executive with Bacardi for 25 years. As such, I have some knowledge about the company, its history, and many of the events related in the book, as well as knowing many of the people written about in the book.

The author has done a tremendous job in his research, and in getting the essence of the Bacardi family and, by extension, the Cuban story correct.

This is not only a good read for anyone interested in the Bacardi story, but also a well written, and detailed chronicle of Cuban political history that goes back well beyond the Batista-Castro-Communist revloution times that are what people generally know about Cuba.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Seth J. Frantzman HALL OF FAME on September 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
There has recently been a renewed interest in pre-revolutionary Cuba. This stems from the fact that Cuba today is so un-romantic, so poor and stricken with prostitution, that peopel want to understand not only the pre-history of Castro but also the time before Castro. This has given us new studies of the Mafia in Cuba (Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba and Then Lost It to the Revolution) and recent books on the Americans who fought in the revolution. This book examines a previously unstudied subject, the history of the Bacardi family and Cuba. Most would have assumed the family, being some of the wealthier citizens of the island, would not have been Castro supporters or progressive in the least bit. But the truth is quite different. The patriarch of the dynasty was a fighter in the original war against Spain in the 1890s and by the 1950s they were disillusioned with Batista. This is an excellent history of this family and its biography, which in many ways is the biography of Cuba itself in this period. A very nice book that fills both a gap in history and sheds light on a fascinating story.

Seth J. Frantzman
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