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Castro's Secrets: Cuban Intelligence, The CIA, and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Hardcover – April 24, 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Trade (April 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230621236
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230621237
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #260,716 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Attention-getting… point[s] to crucial unresolved questions that still trouble our national soul.”--Slate

“Brilliant . . . This unique book not only traces Fidel Castro’s extraordinary intelligence service and its acts against the U.S., but it also analyzes America’s — and especially the overeager Kennedy boys’ — attempts to kill Castro . . . informative (and wonderfully readable) . . . Latell’s book, enhanced by the author’s rich experience, radar-like understanding of the peculiar people involved and mastery of history, is an important contribution to understanding this crucial period that changed us much more than we imagine.”--Georgie Anne Geyer, The Columbus Dispatch

“Castro’s Secrets begins like a slow murder mystery then builds damning fact after damning fact into a conclusive, ground-breaking portrait, based on firsthand sources, of how the Cuban strongman—in all his evil brilliance—frequently ran circles around the CIA . . . The most interesting parts of his narrative revolve around how much Castro knew about the plot to kill Kennedy, and a parallel attempt, on the part of the CIA, to assassinate the Cuban dictator . . . One of the successes of Castro’s Secrets is that it offers readers a view of both sides of the shadow war.”--The Daily Beast

"A fascinating study of Castro’s intelligence network and its early battles with the CIA to secure Castro’s hold on power.”--The Sunday Times

“Britan Latell, for four decades the CIA’s ranking authority on all matters Castro and Cuban, has ripped the shroud off the circumstances behind one of the more flagrant instances of journalistic malpractice ever in the Washington media.”—The Washington Times


“Authoritative exposé …[and] a lively and revealing account of the long intelligence war between the U.S. and Cuba.”--Publishers Weekly

"[Latell] offers considerable information about how the U.S. government tried continually to overthrow the Castro regime, including plans that could have led to the assassination of one or both Castro brothers. In addition to information about assassination plots, Latell explains how a small island nation built an impressive spy agency . . . An insider's account." --Kirkus Reviews

“An insider's look at Castro's Cuba, and its tortured relationship with America, from one of the most knowledgeable Cuba experts around. Brian Latell draws on exclusive interviews with Cuban spies and troves of declassified documents to provide the most authoritative account yet of the decades-long U.S. Cuba intelligence war.”--Michael Dobbs, author of One Minute to Midnight: JFK, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War

“I have been waiting more than 35 years for this book. Since my service as a member of the Senate’s Church committee I have never believed Fidel Castro’s denials of prior knowledge of the Kennedy assassination. Brian Latell has performed a national service by writing a book that lays bare the duplicity of the Cuban government.”--Robert Morgan, former US Senator

"No one knows more about Cuban intelligence than Brian Latell. In this page-turner, he not only tells compelling stories that reveal the strength of Cuban actions in Le Carre's world of spy vs. spy but raises unsettling questions about Lee Harvey Oswald's Cuban connections. By the end, the reader is asking, What did Fidel know and when did he know it?"--Timothy Naftali, Blind Spot: The Secret History of American Counterterrorism

"A remarkable look at Fidel Castro's intelligence machine. This is a must read for anyone curious about the long history of Fidel Castro's intelligence preoccupation with the U.S. "--Frederick P. Hitz, former Inspector General of CIA and author of The Great Game  

“Castro’s Secrets is a must read for anyone who cares about how JFK died, how Fidel Castro lied to a congressional investigating committee, and whether the CIA is still covering up crucial knowledge.”--G. Robert Blakey, Former Chief Counsel and Staff Director to the House Select Committee on Assassinations

"In this provocative book, Brian Latell brings to bear all his experience and knowledge as a former intelligence analyst on Cuba for the CIA. This is a book that should be read, regardless of whether one agrees with Latell about Castro’s complicity in JFK’s assassination."-- Max Holland, author of The Kennedy Assassination Tapes

“[CASTRO’S SECRETS is] the first substantial study of Fidel Castro’s intelligence operations. Based on interviews with Cuban spies who defected as well as declassified documents from the CIA, the FBI, the Pentagon and other national security organs, it contains a good deal of material likely to stir controversy . . . Latell’s book makes some new revelations and adds detail to older ones in making the argument that Castro played at least an indirect role in the assassination [of JFK].” –The Miami Herald

About the Author

BRIAN LATELL began tracking Cuba for the CIA in the early 1960s. Today, as Senior Research Associate at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies at the University of Miami, he continues as one of the most distinguished and frequently quoted experts. For a quarter century he taught Cuba and Latin America as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University. A former National Intelligence Officer for Latin America and Director of the CIA's Center for the Study of Intelligence, he has written for the Washington Post, Miami Herald, Wall Street Journal, Time, and many other American and international publications. His After Fidel has been published in eight languages.

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Customer Reviews

Well written book.
John T. Mcintyre
The book is loaded with intelligence from Cuban defectors, spy's, CIA declassified documents and counter intelligence.
M. W. Castelao
Highly recomendable, everybody must to read this book to understand who is Castro.
S. Ponti

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Paul Gelman on May 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is for the first time that the extent of the DGI actions, Cuba's secret service,is exposed and brought to the readers who are interested in this fascinating yet little known history of the murky business which took place during the Cold War mainly in Latin America. Brian Latell has written an authoritative book showing to what extent the Cuban Secret Service has penetrated the USA, using the testimony and interviews which he has conducted with one of the Cuban defectors Florentino Aspillaga Lombard. It is through the words and confessions of Lombard that we get the picture of a very small secret service, which was deadly and highly efficient. Castro was behind all the conspiracies and plans to subvert, spy, conduct and place illegals in the USA and other countries, especially in Latin America. It was Castro who, having witnessed an innumerable list of defections from the DGI, started requiring intelligence officers to sign a blood oath acknowledging they would automatically be sentenced to death if they ever tried to defect.
Following the demise of Operation Mongoose, whose purpose was to destabilize Castro's regime, the USA covert programs against Castro increased, courtesy of the Kennedy brothers and administration.It is from this point onwards where the author suggests that Castro was in the know about President Kennedy's assassination. However documents linking him directly to this are missing or might have been destroyed. As Mr. Latell puts it:" In Kennedy's case, Fidel chose to defend himself through a conspiracy of silence". I believe he is also right when he claims that the entire truth about Cuban complicity in Kennedy's death is not likely to be known, because a web of deception and disinformation woven over decades in Havana" has obscured most of the underlying truth".
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Loves the View VINE VOICE on September 8, 2013
Format: Paperback
Who would have thought that a tiny, poor tropical, island nation would have a top notch espionage organization? CIA didn't in the 1950's and 60's and as a result its major Cuban operations were compromised. From interviews with key defectors and from now declassified the CIA and FBI files, the author describes DGI, the spy organization that Fidel Castro and his brother carefully built and continue to run.

The atrocities of the regime and the megalomaniac actions of its leader inspired defectors who arrived at embassies. From them, the CIA learned about Cuba's sophisticated spy network and its reach. They learned about agents, double agents and "dangles" who were sent by the DGI as "bait" for the CIA to work with and trust. The defectors' stories lead up to the most provocative parts of the book: the potential Cuban role in the JFK assassination.

Through the evidence of a potential Castro involvement in the assassination, you see the inner workings of both the CIA and the DGI. You see how critical defector information is to the agency and how dangerous dangles can be. While Castro might have known in advance, there is no evidence linking Castro to the JFK assassination. The circumstantial elements are interesting, but not convincing. Also not convincing is the premise of Castro's motive: that President Kennedy, personally pursued regime change in Cuba after the Bay of Pigs up to and including a Castro assassination. Latell used a lot of "could haves" in the discussion of Desmond FitzGerald the liaison of the Kennedys to the CIA Cuba staff. While Latell, does not seem to support the Castro involvement theory, he seems convinced that Kennedy actively pursued a regime change for Cuba until his death.

Latell avoids discussion of the various CIA involvement theories.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By James Banzer on September 23, 2013
Format: Paperback
I am usually quick to dismiss conspiracy theories about President John F. Kennedy's assassination. JFK was murdered by a lone gunman on November 22, 1963. I am convinced of that. But an intriguing book about the ties between Lee Harvey Oswald and Cuba convincingly surmises that Fidel Castro had to know of Oswald's intentions to kill Kennedy.

Kennedy's killer adored the Cuban leader. Now a book details the ties between Oswald, who harbored deep contempt for the United States, and the Cuban dictator. Brian Latell tracked Cuba for the Central Intelligence Agency beginning in the 1960s. His knowledge of Castro is extensive. In Castro's Secrets: Cuban Intelligence, the CIA and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, Latell details Oswald's obsession with Castro.

Latell tells of Oswald's visit to the Cuban consulate in Mexico City, and is convincing in the belief that Oswald talked with the Cubans about his plans to kill JFK. The book documents how Cuban monitoring of radio transmissions emanating from the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters at Langley, Virginia stopped for a few hours on the fateful morning of the assassination. The monitor was directed to point receivers towards Texas instead.

There's much intrigue in this book about espionage activities both by the CIA and its Cuban counterpart. The General Directorate of Intelligence, commonly known as the DGI, was involved in monitoring United States government activities long before CIA awareness of it. When John Kennedy became president, he and his attorney general brother Robert wanted to topple the Castro government. It was an obsession.

The Bay of Pigs fiasco happened in April 1961.
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