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The Chosen Island: Jews in Cuba Paperback – August, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Maritza Corrales is a Cuban historian who has dedicated her life’s work to researching the history of Jews in Cuba. Born in 1948, she is a graduate of the University of Havana (1972) and lives in Havana. She has been a consulting scholar to numerous research and academic institutions in Cuba and has published numerous articles on the history of Cuban Jews, and she has lectured at universities in Israel, Spain, Mexico and Cuba. She is fluent in English.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 307 pages
  • Publisher: Salsedo Press, Inc.; First edition (August 2005)
  • ISBN-10: 0977176401
  • ISBN-13: 978-0977176403
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,171,859 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Laurence Daley on January 17, 2007
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Corrales, Maritza 2005 The Chosen Island: Jews in Cuba. Salsedo Press, Chicago ISBN-10 0977176401 ISBN-13 978-0977176403

This is a most interesting book from several points of view. Although already by page 23 it has narrated the overwhelming exodus of Cuban Jews from the island after Castro arrived in power, this book concentrates on the Jews that stayed. As a result work is a source of information on a good number of communist Cubans of Jewish origins, most especially arch-conspirator and activist Fabio Grobart, believed by many to have been one of the most important midwives of Cuban communism. However, the information provided in this volume has to be evaluated with caution, since it follows the Castroite version of Cuban history. Details such as the role of of Machado in the murder of Julio Antonio Mella or the activities of communists in the overthrow of Machado, are extremely distorted since Machado and the Communists cooperated until almost the last minute of this dictators rule. Communist co-operation with Batista is overlooked, and Fabio Grobart's, role as supporter of Castro's rule especially during the "microfaction" trials is omitted. The testimony of the other Jewish Communists is forced and seems pre-orchestrated. For instance the lack of discrimination of pre-Castro era Cubans against Jews, is certainly a fact; however, why does each interviewee in turn have to repeat that in almost the same words. As a result while an impartially reader can probably accept the "fact" that Fabio Grobart was born in the Trzciany shtetl, near Bialystok, that his real name was Avremil (Abraham) Grobart and he took a series of alias starting with Avreml Simjovich and taking the name Fabio on suggestion of a communist friend, or that he was father to Fabio Grobart Sunshine as fact.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Moises Asis on January 20, 2007
This is not a history book or a credible collection of interviews, and its improved title could be "Chutzpah: Non-Jewish and Jewish Jews in Cuba". It is a pro-Castro propaganda piece with no balance and totally biased to a political agenda. Many or most of the "interviewed" are Cubans who never dared to mention their Jewish past, if any, until Castro allowed religious or religion-connected Cubans (Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Santeros, Muslims, Paleros, etc.) in 1992 to be members of the Communist Party and to be unlabeled as enemies of Revolution, and at the same time to prayer any other deity than Castro and Communism icons. That was a dramatic aperture that actually launched tens of thousands of Communists to enroll Santeria, but also Catholic and Protestant churches, synagogues, and other religious institutions. The book falsificates some interviews, e.g. the "post-mortem interview" with Abraham Marcus Matterin, an outstanding scholar who heartly hated Communism but he made the decision of staying in Cuba to care of his elderly mother and later understood that it was too late to start a new life abroad; Marcus Matterin was a free, sensitive soul, who suffered the lack of freedoms in a totalitarian Cuba, exactly because he loved Cuba and Cubans so much, and he died in extreme poverty and ignored by the Castro totalitarian culture-establishment. There are other examples of omisions and distorsions, but the worst offense is to mix in a book (even if the purpose is to present Cuban totalitarianism as a paradise for Jews) those self-hating Jews who wore the repressive boot with those proud Jews who suffered the same repressive boot and kept reciting Kaddish in the worst times and in the not-so-bad ones.Read more ›
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As a non-practicing Jew who is a longtime supporter of the Cuban Revolution, I was interested in this book. While I enjoyed it, there were only a few interviews I thought were really significant. It is not a work of political propaganda as the absurd anti-communist reviews claim (despite the fact that so much of the book is interviews with Jews who left Cuba). But I didn't find it to be all that useful either. The very nature of the book makes it a mixed bag.

I will answer one question raised by Laurence Daley, who appears to be one of the Cuban émigrés paid by the CIA or State Department to write lies and half-truths about Cuba. He claims to have fought in the revolution, although I'm quite dubious about that. In talking about Fabio Grobart, Daley leaves out the fact that it was not the old Stalinist Popular Socialist Party who led the revolution at all, but a new layer of youth who were attracted to Marxism. The Stalinists initially opposed the armed struggle, and didn't believe anything but a bourgeois-democratic revolution could be made in Cuba, but eventually they felt the pressure to join in. After the revolution there was a three-way fusion of Fidel's July 26th Movement, the PSP, and the Revolutionary Directorate, which eventually became the present Communist Party. The Posadista nut group that called itself "Trotskyist" was also invited to be part of the fusion, but rejected the offer (see Dynamics of the Cuban Revolution: A Marxist Appreciation). Of course the new party was influenced by Stalinism, especially in the period of 1970-75, but it remained a genuine revolutionary party. It would not be in power today if that wasn't true.
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