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Seagull One: The Amazing True Story of Brothers to the Rescue Hardcover – September 26, 2010

4.9 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Cuban exiles Prellezo and Basulto chronicle the striking true story of a rescue association built from the ground up. Born in Cuba in 1940 to a middle class family, Basulto developed an early fascination with weapons, acquiring numerous pistols, rifles, and machine guns, and a penchant for daredevil hobbies like motorcycle and car racing. After a brief stint at Boston University, Basulto returned to Havana mid-revolution, was recruited and trained by the CIA, and took part in the Bay of Pigs operation. Surviving that fiasco, and witnessing a young man die while attempting to reach Florida, Basulto formed Brothers to the Rescue with friend Billy Schuss. Initially the group monitored the Florida Straits in boats searching for capsized refugees, but BTTR soon realized that they could be more effective from the sky. They acquired a small fleet of Cessnas, some of which were involved in aerial gun battles with Cuban MiGs, and Basulto, along with Prellezo, tells the well-executed, often harrowing true story of how he and co-founder Schuss daringly took humanitarian efforts into their own hands and transformed the lives of thousands of Cuban refugees. (Sept.)
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Book Description

A modern-day adventure of those who risked their lives to save others

 

"The true story of Brothers to the Rescue finally told in a compelling, riveting narrative that brings the reader inside the founding, growth, and tragic end of one of Florida's most important Cuban exile organizations."--Victor A. Triay, author of Fleeing Castro

 

"Finally we have the true story of Brothers to the Rescue, a group of dedicated volunteers who risked their lives in order to save that of others."--Eduardo Zayas-Bazán, author of ¡Arriba!and Bay of Pigs veteran

  

“Seagull One is the stirring account of an heroic group of pilots who risked their lives on a daily basis on behalf of the endless stream of Cuban rafters seeking freedom in the U.S. By turns heart-breaking, infuriating, and uplifting, Lily Prellezo’s debut is a wonderful testament to courage and compassion.”

--Les Sandiford, author of Last Train to Paradise

 

 

There was a time in Miami when it seemed impossible to go through a week without news coverage of the men, women and children escaping Cuba and being pulled off of makeshift rafts in the middle of the Florida Straits. One out of four did not survive the dangerous journey; the others barely hung on with little food and water. Most of the lucky ones were saved by a group of volunteers who called themselves Brothers to the Rescue (BTTR).


Seagull One is the never-before-told story of the men and women representing nineteen nationalities who came together to fly in rickety Cessnas over the Florida Straits to search for rafters fleeing Communist Cuba. It is a fascinating account of how José Basulto, a Cuban exile and Bay of Pigs veteran, founded BTTR with the humanitarian mission of saving the lives of the desperate souls willing to brave the ocean in pursuit of freedom. The group’s tactics were sometimes controversial, including protests against both the Cuban and U.S. governments, yet the organization managed to save over 4,200 people they would seldom, if ever, meet.


Seagull One also records the infiltration of two spies, one who was a double agent working for the FBI. Together these two volunteers collaborated with the Castro government in planning the shoot down over international waters of two unarmed Cessnas flying a humanitarian mission on February 24, 1996. The cold-blooded murder of four innocent men (three American citizens and one legal resident) led to significant changes in U.S.-Cuba relations.


Over one hundred people were interviewed for Seagull One. Their stories come to life in this nonfiction narrative that reads like a novel.

 

 

 

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Florida (September 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813034906
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813034904
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,387,205 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book is a wonderful achievement and a contribution to our understanding of a unique chapter in the Cuban Exile experience. With excellent story telling, "Seagull One" is a historical work that reads like a novel. A massive research challenge that was more than met by author Lily Prellezo's persistence and unique understanding of what drove the men and women of Brother's to the Rescue to accomplish what often amounted to miracles over the Straits of Florida. It is a story of tragedy and triumph, brotherhood,sisterhood, and betrayal. A must read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A compelling and remarkable true story written through the eyes of those who witnessed this despairing period in the Cuban-American struggle for freedom in Miami. Ms. Prellezo performs a distinguished task of providing the historical context through a touching narrative. It is well researched and I, a long time Miami resident, had my eyes opened to details that I was previously unaware. A fantastic read.
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This book is an authentic eye opener. The plight of the balseros, that took to the high seas in search of liberty at the risk of death. The group headed by Jose Basulto made up of volunteers from 19 different nationalities that united to save over 4000 lives in the Florida Straits. This is a compelling story, told by Lily Prellezo, that opens your eyes to the reality of life in a communist country, and the false hope that one day our elected officials will have the courage to change the system that is only 90 miles away. This book is definitely a must read.
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Format: Hardcover
Full disclosure: I am a member of the writers' group where Lily Prellezo developed Seagull One.

That being said, I believe that Seagull One has value to any reader at several levels. It is a meticulous historical recounting of yet another acrimonious passage in U.S.-Cuba relations. That makes for, perhaps, a fairly narrow spectrum of appeal. But the story transcends the particulars, for it is a heartwarming tale of selflessness, of individuals with no vested or proprietary interests in the welfare of the rafters trying to leave Cuba in makeshift watercraft, who gave freely their time, their talent, their airplanes, their money, and, three of them, their lives, for people who they did not know, and in most cases did not deem it necessary to know. And it is a work of beautiful writing. At the Writers Institute at Miami-Dade College, where I met Lily several years ago, she read the scene of the seagull circling the dying balsero (rafter). I was struck, we all were struck, by the lyricism of the passage, how she was able to take such a tragic event and turn it into art. She has maintained that lyricism throughout.

I believe the book will appeal, beyond the obvious audience of those that want to learn about the balseros, to those who would like, or need, to see a documented case of unselfish human behavior, and to those who think that history need not be recounted in journalistic or academic cant. Enjoy it.
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Format: Hardcover
Lily Prellezo takes us on a factual, interesting and inspiring journey into the dedication and commitment of a group of pilots, men and woman that were willing to risk their own lives to save rafters escaping Cuba and seeking refuge and freedom in the United States. In Seagull One Prellezo allows us to see, hear, taste and smell the courage of this band of patriots. As an American born Gringo, I saw for the first time what the unsung heros living on our shores were willing to do to save their own people. Led by Jose Balsulto, we peek inside the lives of these pilots, their families and the traitors hiding in their midst. From the first flight of Brothers to the Rescue, to the shoot down you will be intrigued. I recommend this book to those of you who have never truly understood the Cuban experience. Ellen Brazer, Author of Clouds Across the SunClouds Across the Sun
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I began reading this book, I smiled at Lily Prellezo's writing style because it sounded so typically Cuban. I am not sure I can explain what I mean but I believe anyone raised in a Cuban family or who has been around enough Cubans in there life would understand what I mean. The more I read, the more fascinated I became with this book and with the characters. I began to feel Like I knew each one. It's as if they were my friends or family. Even though I was familiar with what happened, I could not put the book down. I began to experience a great deal of emotions from sadness and anger to a sense of pride in being Cuban American. Sadly, this is an important and tragic story that did not get enough press outside of Southern Florida. After all, these were American citizens brutally executed over international waters. Why is it that most of us have forgotten?
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Format: Hardcover
Seagull One fulfills on its promise: the story is AMAZING! Some true stories read better than a novel. The pages come alive with heroism, optimism, personality and tenacity. The people in the story came to life. I got to know them and what their motivations were. While reading Seagull One, I marveled at the "Brothers" courage, and the next minute, I felt heartbroken. It made me wonder what I can do to make the world a better place. If a book can do that, it has achieved the ultimate goal: to change the world one person at a time. Although Lily Prellezo is the writer of this true story, she has the ability to capture each of the voices; even down to a person's nuances. I am Anglo-American, and I advocate Seagull One to every ethnic group. This is not only a stunning book about Cuba: it is a story about what it takes to be a hero in our times!
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