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Castro's Daughter: An Exile's Memoir of Cuba Paperback – September 10, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (September 10, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031224293X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312242930
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,245,733 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Fernandez, who learned at age ten that Castro was her father, eventually renounced the regime and was forced to flee Cuba. Here's her story.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Fidels illegitimate offspring informs the waiting world that the Cuban dictator is not an especially cuddly fellow. Fernandez, now living in exile in Spain, recounts with a relentlessly thumb-in-mouth attitude her years of growing up in revolutionary Cuba. Her characters number not only Marxist heavies like Raul Castro and Che Guevara (who looked like a big frog, and who sired an illegitimate daughter of his own with a pair of prize-winning boobs), but also elves, gnomes, and sprites. In the hands of Gabriel Garca Mrquez, the bow to magical realism might have worked. But in this young womans coming-of-age tale, the approach proves irretrievably cloying. Fernandez dishes plenty of dirt about her famous father, who was in no hurry to acknowledge her publicly, but who made sure she was blessed with a steady supply of Barbie dolls, chauffeured cars, and well-situated beaux. Some of the dirt here: Castro was once married to the daughter of a high official in the Batista dictatorship, a union that allowed him to receive a lenient sentence after his guerrilla bands ill-fated assault on Santiago, in which many of his men died or suffered torture, while Fidel had not even a single scratch. A little more: His Highness liked to swimbut only after the beaches had been cleared of any other bathers. And then, gulps Fernandez, Castro didnt approve of her frequent and disastrous marriages and love interests. Another item: He dispatched tens of thousands of Cuban soldiers, including some of her boyfriends, to die pointlessly in Angola. To punish her distant father, preoccupied with the business of spreading revolution and staving off Yanqui imperialism, Fernandez became a fashion modeland famine-stricken Cubas only voluntary anorexic. Fidel must have been relieved when his daughter left town. Readers who brave her whines will feel that the book ends not a page too soon. (Author tour) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 22, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I have lived in Miami 39 years. Every day I think of Cuba, talk about Cuba and hear the exile's radio. I thought I knew a lot about life in Cuba - the missery, the control - but never, imagined how horrible life could be for the cubans - Alina's description is a revelation. Life put her in a difficult - to say the least - position. I'm happy she was able to leave hell behind!
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 11, 1999
Format: Hardcover
alina fernandez must have nerves made of pig iron to have survived the life she did in cuba as a young girl. her book paints a picture of a world so alien and biased that i feel i have finally read what modern day cuba is all about.
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32 of 42 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a great book, written by Fidel Castro's own daughter. Would you question her authenticity? I think not. Knowing the extent that the Cuban government's propaganda campaign will go to in order to discredit her, would you think that another reader named Cube could be spouting out the same rhetoric?
Cube, you are a bigger clown than Castro. You regurgitate the same excuses used on the island. Everyone knows that the United States is only 35% of the world's economy and Cuba trades with the rest of the world - do the math yourself. Everyone knows that the reason Cubans are starving is because all funds are diverted to exporting communism: in Colombia (FARC), in Venezuela (Hugo Chavez), in Brazil (Lula) in Nicaragua (Sandinistas), in El Salvador (FMLN), in Africa, in Vietnam, in Grenada, and in the United States (wasn't Lee Harvey Oswald distributing Pro-Castro leaflets just before Kennedy was assassinated?). The planes shot down in 1996 were flying in international waters looking for Cubans, like yourself, who chose to leave the island on a raft rather than live under this regime. You yourself live in Brazil - did you leave for a better life, or are you working for the Cuban government like your father? The percentages you quote ("95% of the population was starving, living in the streets, illiterate, poorly educated, had no job opportunity, etc. the other 5% lived in mansions, ate the finest food, bathed everyday, slept on a matress, etc") closely resemble what is presently happening in Cuba. Under Batista, the 5% represented wealthy land owners; under Castro, that 5% represents government officials.
Universal health care in Cuba translates to a lack of medical supplies - try and find gauze for your wounds or stitches for your surgery. Education is simply indoctrination.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By B. Tupper on October 15, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Other reviewers have looked at the Cuban context. I want to deal with the text as literature.

I stumbled across this book (English version) by accident and was quickly entranced by the skill and sensitivity with which Alina tells her story. I wondered whether that skill was Alina's or the work of the translator, and I bought the Spanish version to find out. I was glad to see the skill is totally Alina's, the translator doing an excellent recreation in English.

Two things in particular stand out -- the precise and detailed memory of things she experienced when she was not yet three years old, and the lyrical prose that flows magically and without ostentation or exaggeration. It is not an easy book to read quickly. The text is cubist in structure, often jerking back and forth between scenes whose connection is not always immediately apparent. And she uses a variety of nicknames and descriptives for the major characters, to the extent that one often has to think twice to connect the person immediately mentioned to the rest of the story. She is a master of understatement to emphasize a point. The most gruesome and ugly events are tossed off with a cubist aside that lets the reader's imagination extend the description into an abstract metaphor. The portraits of the various characters are exquisitely drawn, with all their pimples and warts and beauty. Buildings and streets and plants take on an aura of high art. It adds up to a literary masterpiece.

A typical expression of this gift is her sensual response to the forms and voices and bouquets of the city Havana before and after the Revolution, as a woman passing through the phases of her life (pp 16-17 English).

I am not surprised at the hate poured out on Alina and her work by several reviewers here. This must be a very painful book for ideological leftists who want to see Castro's Cuba as a paradise on earth and Socialism as the very cure for all the ills of human existence.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By LorenJey on May 30, 2005
Format: Paperback
It's amazing how detailed Alina gets about her upbringing, her 'father' and the rollercoaster lifestyle she endured while living under her 'father's' reign. To get an idea of what Castro has done and what he is doing, especially to his offsprings is unreal. This is a book one can't put down. I don't think it had much publicity and it's underated.
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29 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Steven Fantina on October 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
Alina Fernandez has quite a story to tell. Not only does she provide an insider's view of life in the prison nation of Cuba, she offers a first hand account of growing up illegitimate with a biological father who had little time or interest in his inconvenient offspring.
The Cuban existence she portrays is bleak and empty. Under Castro's domination, a zeitgeist of amorality has entrapped Cuba and its innocent citizens in a web where dreams don't come true. Divorce and abortion are rampant and illicit sex begins at a very young age. Alina shows how Castro's officially imposed atheism enslaved the populace and stands as a constant de facto assault on the family structure. Parental rights are nonexistent, because children are only allowed to see their mothers and fathers once a month. To illustrate the country's miasma, she tells of having to wait five years to acquire a used toilet.
While she thoroughly documents Fidel's many faults from his murderous rampages to his unsatable sex drive, this autobiography never stoops to the level of a "Daddy Dearest" style hatchet job. Alina is equally up front about her own deficiencies that include a string of failed marriages-although that has tragically become the norm in much of Cuban society. The end shows her transformation with not only her escape to freedom but the conversion to Christianity of her teenage daughter. The original version ended with an open letter to the despot asking him to legalize Christmas again-a rare concession that has actually been granted.
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