From Publishers Weekly
In February, 2002, Ramonet, the editor of French monthly Le Monde diplomatique, began a two-year conversation with the controversial Cuban head of state, a collaboration that resulted in this Q&A-style, Castro-approved look into the revolutionary leader's life, from boyhood through his half-century in power. Ramonet proves a worthy interviewer, well prepared to tackle the famed Communist revolutionary's legacy, and while many of Castro's answers are predictably self-serving-"I've fought adamantly against any manifestation of the cult of personality"-the bombastic leader's views on political figures and world events are genuinely thoughtful, and at times fascinating. High points include accounts of his relationship with Khrushchev during the Cuban missile crisis, backed up by excerpts from letters they exchanged; his advice for Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez during a 2002 coup attempt; and his sincere, positive assessment of American President Jimmy Carter. Though readers may find it hard to take this authorized life story at face value, Castro's first attempt to tell his complete story provides an engaging perspective on the man and the world he helped shape.
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*Starred Review* Spanish journalist Ramonet sat down with Castro over the course of many hours, engaging him in long, involved discussions about his revolutionary life (and little about his personal life). The result is, in the words of the interviewer, Castro’s “political testament, an oral summoning-up of Fidel Castro’s life by Fidel himself at almost eighty.” That rather simple description does not begin to cover the magnitude and significance of this major document. Presented in question-and-answer format, the book was originally published in Spain in 2006; its subsequent release in an English-language version has been “totally revised, amended and completed personally” by Castro himself. No surprise the interviewer is pro-Castro, and one would expect his collaborative effort with Castro to be one-sided, woven as it is from his subject’s strongly held personal opinions. Nevertheless, the detail here, filtered, of course, through Castro’s memory and consciousness, nevertheless proves enormously fascinating, with some of their most interesting discussions centering on Che Guevara and on the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. By itself an incomplete history of the Cuban Revolution, to be sure, but an important—the ultimate insider view—contribution to the complete picture. --Brad Hooper