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Castro'S Final Hour Paperback – October 29, 1993

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Miami Herald foreign correspondent Oppenheimer presents a revelatory close-up of Cuba following the Soviet Union's withdrawal of subsidies. Photos.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This exciting, highly readable behind-the-scenes account of Castro's Cuba, based on the author's five trips to the island from 1989-91 and involving 500 interviews, explores events that led to the 1989 trial and execution of General Arnaldo Ochoa Sanchez. Oppenheimer, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the Miami Herald, skillfully presents this complex case as a means of assessing the larger context of the Cuban revolution, the inflexibility of its leadership, and the paranoia of Fidel and Raul Castro. In addition to demonstrating Fidel's knowledge of Cuban involvement in drug trafficking, the author illustrates how high-ranking officers in Cuba's expeditionary forces used often unsavory business deals to finance government foreign policy and military goals. Highly recommended for all collections.
- Roderic A. Camp, Latin American Ctr., Tulane Univ., New Orleans, La.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; Updated edition (October 29, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671872990
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671872991
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,163,788 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jim Stegall on June 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
I read this book when it first appeared and was impressed by the wealth of first-hand information Mr. Oppenheimer had been able to amass. I remember quite vividly thinking at the time that Castro had managed to hang on to his personal fiefdom for over thrity years (at that point), and that given his ruthless nature, his absolute control over every aspect of Cuban society, and the long experience of the islanders in acquiesing to domination and deprivation, it was risky to predict his demise (at least on economic grounds).
The system Castro constructed is a marvel of state control. There is really nothing else in the world quite like it, although the North Korean regime gets similar results using more consistently brutal and heavy-handed methods. In retrospect, it seems odd that while Mr. Oppenheimer was able to explain a great deal about how the system works, he came to the conclusion that it would soon fail anyway.
So to sum up the book: Good research, lots of data and anecdotes, very well written, faulty conclusion. It seems that the world, and the luckless Cuban people, are stuck with the old caudillo until he dies.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
How can anyone belittle this well thoughtout and researched book? One can continue placing "all" the blame on the Embargo but there were two major blunders that had a more devastating impact on Cuba: The immediate removal (1956) of the professional class ( businessmen and merchants) by confiscating their assets and properties and transferring them into the hands of inexperienced, incapable and largely inept bureaucrats. 2. The economically naive and foolish reliance on a Soviet "subsidized" trade agreement ( 5 years plans that went on for years)and the total failure to forsee and prepare for it's inevitable collapse. When the Soviets, because of their own economic problems, began to demand payment in hard currencies (dollar) instead of the long practised "barter system" the game was over.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 1, 1998
Format: Paperback
I read this book with great reluctance and skepticism. It was recommended to me a cousin who had recently emigrated to Mexico from Cuba, where I read it in Spanish on the eve of my own trip to the island to visit family (this trip took place Nov 97). While many of the hardships of the Special Period in Time of Peace -- Castrospeak for the crisis that followed the collapse of the Soviet block -- have eased, this book is an honest, unflinching portrait. It accurately describes Cuba as a nation struggling to keep what is best in the revolution while moving past what is worst, primarily through the words of its own people and key events not widely reported in the US. It makes it clear that the US embargo not only worsens the lives of ordinary Cubans, but provides Fidel with a catch-all excuse for not dealing with internal economic problem. After reading this book it is easy to see the US embargo as the most bass-ackwards US foreign policy move of the last 20 years -- virtually guaranteeing that Fidel remain in power with his ultimately empty anti-imperialist rhetoric. The details of how Fidel is turning the nation into Europe's and Canada's bargain brothel are heartbreaking.
This book is a must for supporters of the Cuban revolution because it forces us to confront the realities Cubans face in their daily lives, without the rose-colored glasses of socialist idealism.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
Its sad that this island lives day by day without any future agenda in mind. There is no such thing in Cuba as communism, they broke the mold a long time ago.It should be called "Castrism".You ask any cuban citizen where will they be 5 years from know and they look puzzle.The citizens on this island have given up on life and hope, its like a bad dream that they hope will end one day.What happened in 59 shall never happen again.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Edward P. Matos on August 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is history at its best. "Castro's Final Hour" is quite possibly the best book on the rise and fall of Fidel Castro's Cuba - a piece of journalistic reportage that will not be outdone any time soon.

This is not a Fidel Castro biography; it is however, a synopsis of the events that lead to Cuba's virtual ruin. "Castro's Final Hour" opens with the 1989 executions of four high-ranking Cuban military officers of which two stood out among the rest: Col. Antonio de La Guardia and Division General Arnaldo Ochoa Sanchez. According to Oppenheimer, these executions may have well marked the disillusionment of the Cuban people with their revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro. The executions may have also precipitated Cuba's disintegration in the eyes of the world community. Oppenheimer writes of the decline of Cuba's relations with its ideological allies in Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Angola, Germany . . . and its most important and economic lifeline, the Soviet Union.

Oppenheimer tackles the difficult and delicate issue of equanimity between Cuba's systems of free education and healthcare and the government's food rationing program, which drastically reduced the foodstuffs that Cubans received monthly, and which worsened as the Soviet Union pulled its resources from the island. The struggle the Cuban people faced after Mikhail Gorbachev's Soviet Union converted to a free market economy along with most of Europe and Latin America became a devastating fact of life.

Oppenheimer describes life in Cuba. Cuba, once considered the jewel of the Caribbean was transformed into an island of despair where Cubans lived uneventful lives and struggled daily just to survive and make ends meet.
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