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Fidel Castro Paperback – August 17, 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 898 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; New edition edition (August 17, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393313271
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393313277
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #506,442 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“A broad and often devastating indictment of its subject and his historical role. . . . An encyclopedic study of [Castro's] rise to power.” (Mark A. Uhlig - New York Times Book Review)

“Quirk's combination of detailed historical interpretation and psychological analysis make his the definitive study.” (Library Journal)

About the Author

Robert Quirk, formerly professor of history at Indiana University, lives in Bloomington, Indiana.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 17, 2002
I have read this book recently as well as all of the reviews by customers. There's some amazing stuff in these reviews, by the way, ranging from "I like Cubans and they are cool people" to "I hate Texans and patriotism."
Whatever. Quirk's book is an excellent treatment of Castro and of the troubled history of a small nation often caught between two struggling superpowers, whether it was Spain and the US or Russia and the US. I think he captures the essence of Castro's adventurer friend Ernesto Guevara (a murdering dilettante who has, amazingly, become a cult hero in death mainly because of his looks and a good press agent named Herbert Matthews)and of his effeminate brother Raul as well. I have spoken with Jose Pardo Llada, who was an early supporter of Castro and knew him intimately for many years. Pardo is also one of the main references used by Quirk (he uses Pardo's "Fidel" and "El Che" extensively, for example, in the early chapters) and Pardo feels that Quirk has captured the leadership styles of Castro quite well. Yes, the man is charismatic but also highly erratic and given to extreme highs and extreme lows. He is also very, very clever and knows how to use the stage to his benefit. These are Castro's qualities and behaviors, and Quirk does a solid job in capturing and describing them.
I particularly like the analysis of Castro's youth and of the environment from which he emerged.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 22, 2001
This is book is a welcome addition and sheds much needed light on the phenonmenon of Castro. It is thoroughly researched and quite lengthy-perhaps too much so however. After completing a masters degree in Latin American studies and pouring over the vast literature on Cuba, I definitely recommend this book but suggest reading others on the topic as well. Cuban studies is such a politicized field and it is remarkably difficult to find academics, pundits, and others writing in this area who aren't completely biased in one way or the other. In addition to this book, I recommend books and articles by Jorge Dominguez, who is probably the most noted scholar writing on Cuba today.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gus Venegas on April 22, 2010
Though a bit long and tedious 900 pages, this is an excellent comprehensive and well-organized biography of Fidel Castro: from the days of his childhood to his rise to power in Cuba and the world stage. Quirk's first chapter is probably the best 30-page narration of Castro's pre-revolutionary days, from his childhood in his father's affluent plantation, thru his Havana University days and initial affiliation with Eduardo Chibas' liberal flavored Orthodox Party. Quirk tells us more about life at the Castro estates that by the 1920's, Castro's father had become wealthy, with close to 25,000 acres, one of the largest estates in Cuba. We learn that from childhood Fidel Castro respected and admired his father's strong macho and much feared persona and counted weapons as his most prized possessions- including rifles, pistols and shotguns. His life, as a child and as a revolutionary, was one long love affair with firearms and his speeches would have many references to blood and to the prospects of violence and death.

I was highly impressed with Quirk's narration of the early days of the Cuban Revolution (1959-60), a period when Fidel Castro deceived his liberal and moderate allies in the struggle against Batista back from the Moncada days in 1953, was able to form an alliance with the Communists starting in 1959, consolidating his power as defense minister and eventually having a strong enough power base by mid-1960 when he cancelled elections, suppressed freedom of the press, and started a campaign of property confiscation. Castro's interaction with high level cabinet members is covered, showing his micromanagement style and tendency to provide direction in capricious whims on anything from the agrarian reform to housing projects.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lehigh History Student VINE VOICE on December 28, 2006
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This is the best biography of Fidel Castro out there. It is the most through and covers the most information. Although Guerrilla Prince is better written this book does provide more detailed information on all aspects of his life. You can see development of childhood up through his dominance of power. Castro is one of the most interesting men in Latin America and whether you call him a dictator or a revolutionary this book covers him fairly. Highly recommend.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 10, 2000
Don't be misled by the negative reviews presented here, they are more political diatribe I think, than an assestment of an author's work. I found it objective, a difficult task when dealing with such a polarized figure. I found it intelligent. Along with Ellis' biography of James Joyce, one of the most sobering and well done biographies I've read.
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20 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 28, 1999
Mr. Quirk has certainly done his homework. This book is packed with information, and it really takes you through Fidel's life and I feel as though I have a picture and a sense of the man.
The problem to me though, is the book seemed very one sided. There were too many jabs and remarks about Cuba and Castro in the book. Fortunately for me right before reading this book i spent 2 weeks in Cuba *with the people*. Being a musician i was able to get close to Cubans in a way most people can't. With these 2 sources of information (Cuba and the book) I have been able to form my opinion of Castro and of Cuba. I love Cuba and I love the Cubans, AND i'm not a socialist AND i do have some admiration for Castro.
True, Cuban government literature is extremely biased as well, but the people are honest. If this book came with round trip tickets to Cuba you could really get a fairly broad and honest picture of castro and cuba. But since it doesn't, i recommend reading with care.
Please consider this (my 2 cents): 1) i talked with many cubans who feel Castro was a better alternative to the outside (yes U.S.) domination they were facing. Cuba has a very violent and oppressive past. 2) Children of the revolution who do not know life before Castro do not hate him, they seem to like him to some degree. 3) Remember: low crime, little or no domestic violence, little or no child abuse. no drugs, little racism between the Spanish Cubans and the Afro-Cubans. Nearly 100% literacy!
4) The Cuban people are genuinely gentle and kind
I guess Castro should get some credit for some of this, but i didn't find much in this book.
Yes, i'm aware gays are persecuted, people build rafts out of logs to get away, toilets don't flush, and they truck water into the havana.
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