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The Havana Habit Hardcover – October 26, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Change is coming to Cuba, and inevitably the American relationship with Cuba will change. This short, breezy, and often amusing examination of American perceptions of Cuba is both timely and informative; these perceptions have always been rather idiosyncratic. As Pérez Firmat indicates, the island has seemed “so near and yet so foreign.” So he traces this sense of exoticism as it has evolved over two centuries, while placing it within the context of historical developments. He uses a variety of mediums, including literature, cartoons, music, television, and film. Travel writers in the nineteenth century veered from describing a tropical paradise to stressing the filth, decadence, and danger of daily Cuban life. In the first half of the twentieth century, American music and especially films helped create an image of Cuba as a lush, tempting playground and sensuous delight. After the Cuban Revolution, perceptions became sinister and threatening as represented by the image of bearded, hostile commandantes or violent drug-pushing refugees like Tony Montana in the film Scarface. Pérez Firmat has handled this topic with a light, humorous touch without diminishing its more serious aspects. --Jay Freeman


“A tale of two closely tied cultures, The Havana Habit is told with both élan and humor: the author's take on the latin lover iconography attached to both Fidel and Che is priceless, and like all of this book, both informative and entertaining.”—Oscar Hijuelos, author of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love

(Oscar Hijuelos)

“A must-read, must-teach text filled with revelations about the dysfunctional love affair that has preoccupied the United States and Cuba over the last century. There's no other book like it on the Cuban-American condition. Pérez Firmat delivers all you ever wanted to know about Cuba but were too American and polite to ask.”—Virgil Suarez, author of 90 Miles: New and Selected Poems
(Virgil Suarez)

"With elegance and dynamism, Pérez Firmat traces the power of stereotypes in America¹s construction of things Cuban. If Havana stands for Cuba, Cuba stands for Latin America, and there is no other Latin American nation that has left a deeper imprint in the American imagination."—Diana Sorensen, Harvard University
(Diana Sorensen)

"A brilliant and engagingly written study whose theoretical sharpness and original and meticulous research show Havana to be a veritable, if unlikely, American icon."—Roberto Ignacio Díaz, University of Southern California

(Roberto Ignacio Díaz)

"A worthy resource in a variety of disciplines."—A. M. Stock, CHOICE
(A. M. Stock CHOICE)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (October 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300141327
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300141320
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,041,700 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Steven M Kordak on January 22, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Glad I bought the book based on NPR recommendation.
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