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Dateline Havana: The Real Story of US Policy and the Future of Cuba Hardcover – December 1, 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Paradigm Publishers; 1 edition (December 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0981576974
  • ISBN-13: 978-0981576978
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,940,748 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Dateline Havana combines good investigative reporting with sharp analysis. Erlich takes us inside the cultures of Cubans and Cuban-Americans, an eyewitness to their lives and their challenging politics over 40 years of reporting from the island nation. Dateline Havana is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the problems with and seeing change in U.S. Cuba policy.
Walter Cronkite, journalist and former anchor of CBS Evening News

Reese Erlich’s carefully researched new book, Dateline Havana, provides a historical perspective on the reasons that the United States and Cuba don’t get along. It documents the sometimes hilarious and absurd lengths to which the U.S. government and the Cuba Lobby have gone to discredit Fidel Castro. Dateline Havana is mandatory reading for anyone concerned about the future of Cuba.
Lee Lockwood, Castro’s Cuba, Cuba’s Fidel

In Dateline Havana, Erlich talks to people from all sectors of society. Refusing tobe put off by the myriad obstacles that plague journalists trying to cover the Cuban experience, Erlich provides a unique look at a distinct social and economic system filled with contradictions, failures, and successes.
Portia Siegelbaum, network news producer

Reese Erlich provides a well-documented view of one of our closest yet least understood neighbors. His perspectives on the island nation come from interviews with ordinary citizens as well as officials on both sides of the divide. He ventures an educated guess at how near-future Cuban history will unfold.
Margaret Randall, Cuban Women Now and To Change the World: My Years in Cuba

From the Inside Flap

For five decades, Cuba and the United States have had a hostile relationship. But with the transfer of power from Fidel Castro to Raul Castro, Cuba is poised for big changes. What do these changes mean for Cubans and for U.S.-Cuban relations? Veteran reporter Reese Erlich set out to answer that question on the eve of the Cuban Revolution's fiftieth anniversary.

Dateline Havana is a personal yet considered exposé of U.S. policy and the future of Cuba. Reporting from Havana, Washington DC, and Miami, Erlich explores Cuba's strained history with the United States and the power of the Cuba Lobby. From Miami-based terrorists in Cuba to the green revolution in Cuban agriculture, he unearths telling details about U.S.-Cuba relations and present-day realities on the island.

Covering Cuban culture and politics, Erlich creates a tableau that is at once moving and informative. Along the way, he debunks many myths--perhaps most tellingly in the real story of the Buena Vista Social Club, which has little in common with the documentary by Wim Wenders. He paints a nuanced portrait of a nation cast in black and white by the Cuba Lobby, official U.S. Cuba policy, and the American media.

Erlich's deep knowledge of Cuba's history and his personal contacts with ordinary Cubans, Cuban and U.S. officials, and Cuba Lobby personalities inform Dateline Havana 's evaluation of U.S. options regarding Cuba.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jose Sotolongo on February 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a history cum analysis of the Cuban government and its interactions with the US government from 1959, when Castro took over, to the present. It is generally accurate and reveals information not previously well publicized, thanks to arduous research by the author viz a viz review of declassified but not publicized documents from the US State Department.

Having said that, I found the author's slant (mostly pro-Castroite, always suspicious of US motives, albeit often justifiably) a bit tiresome. His diminution of the human rights violatons in Cuba undermines his credibility here and there, thus the 4 stars, not five. It is, nevertheless, an admirably researched book, important for anyone (even those in government positions) who may want a better understanding of the past and future for the relation between the two countries.

There are other sources readers may want to use to get a deeper understanding of the pre Castro Cuba and its troubled history with the US, including Tom Gjelten's book on the Bacardi family.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Stansfield Smith on February 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
If you want to read just one book on Cuba, I would recommend this one. It is an easy read, packed with information, and surprisingly honest for a US journalist. The author has no ideological axe to grind, neither for nor against the Cuba government. He simply gives an honest, thorough and factual presentation of Cuba in a pleasantly readable way. His book covers a wide range of subjects, in both a personal and general way. For those who know more about Cuba, it has the bonus of containing a great deal of very useful references and footnotes. This is a very good book to give someone to start learning about what Cuba is really like, and doesn't want to get thrown into the constant ideological battles taking place in the US over Cuba. I recommend visiting Cuba, go see why the US government doesn't want you to go there, and read this book to educate yourself about Cuba before you go.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By farlio on April 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
In Dateline Havana, Reese Erlich takes on the central paradox of American attitudes towards Cuba, which is that almost no one in United States, on the right or the left, has a realistic appraisal of the modern Cuban state. The misperceptions and outright distortions of the right have, without doubt, had greater policy import, and are probably held by a greater number of people. However, those on the left often overlook the shortcomings of the Revolution, and the problems afflicting Cuba today. Although Mr. Erlich does not spare those on the left (he was once in solidarity with them) he appropriately reserves most of his criticisms for the right wing interpretation of the Cuban Revolution. It is this interpretation, advanced by Cuban exiles and unrepentant Cold Warriors, that has structured US policy towards the island for the last fifty years.

The strongest aspect of the book is the extended discussion of the Cuba Lobby. The Cuban exile community has engaged in political activity against Cuba since the early 1960s; this activity has extended from a direct invasion of the island, to a campaign of terrorism, to concerted efforts to mold US policy. The last has been most successful. Extremist Cuban-American exiles no longer represent a majority of the Cuban population of the United States. Nevertheless, they wield outsize influence over US policy towards Cuba. Reese argues that the Cuban-American extremist exiles succeed not simply because of the electoral power they wield in Florida, but also because they are the only ones paying attention. In this, as in many situations, a small minority with intense preferences can impose its preferred policies on a majority that just doesn't care very much.

Mr. Erlich's account of Cuban political repression is largely fair.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Scott E. Bates on February 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a decent history of the Cuban Revolution, but the author identifies his bias at the beginning and then reaffirms it constantly throughout the book. It felt unobjective, especially given the author's credentials as a journalist. The final chapter deals with the appropriate policy response from the U.S. Government in light of Raul Castro eventually stepping down and giving way to something. Unfortunately, there are no policy recommendations with a supporting rationale, just a few scenarios. One small irritant...some of the notes provide interesting background, but they're buried at the back of the book. It would have been nice to have them at the bottom of the relevant page where the reference occurs.
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