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Comment: A well-cared for ex library issue hardback with a few usual marks has good dust jacket (previously protected in mylar) dust jacket. The text/pages are clean and free from rips, creases or other markings with light handling wear. Good corners and spine.
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The Duke of Havana: Baseball, Cuba, and the Search for the American Dream Hardcover – March 20, 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Villard (March 20, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375503455
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375503450
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,482,227 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With unparalleled access to players, coaches and agents in the U.S. and Cuba, Fainaru and Sanchez deliver a riveting account of the Cuban baseball establishment and the players it spawned, many of whom have defected in recent years to America to seek fame, fortune and freedom. The biggest star among the former Cuban players is the focal point of the book, New York Yankee pitcher Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez. Fainaru, a Boston Globe reporter, and Newsday columnist Sanchez go into tremendous detail about Hernandez 's fall from grace as the best-known player in Cuba to his whirlwind escape that eventually landed him a multimillion-dollar contract with the Yankees. The authors clear up some El Duque mysteries, such as his age; and, in an engrossing section, they track Hernandez's harrowing flight from Cuba, including four days stranded on Anguilla Cay, a brief stint in a Bahamian jail and his arrival in Costa Rica, where his agent Joe Cubas had arranged a workout for the pitcher before major league scouts. Cubas, the most colorful of a host of characters in the book, was one of the first to represent defecting Cuban players and was behind the scheme that called for Cuban players to establish residency in another country before signing with a major league team a move that made the players free agents and thus made them available to the highest bidder. But not everyone in the complex network that ferrets players from Cuba to the U.S. finds a pot of gold. In a tragic case, agent Juan Ignacio is serving 15 years in a Cuban jail for encouraging players to defect. Part sports narrative, part tale of Cold War intrigue, it's a first-rate read. (on sale Mar. 20) Forecast: El Duque's inside story is causing a stir, with inclusion on Talk's top 10 list, a forthcoming article in Maxim, and a first serial in The Boston Globe Magazine. Expect solid sales.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Two journalists (Fainaru of the Boston Globe and Sanchez of Newsday) whose beat is Latin America have teamed up for an insightful view of Cuban baseball. Focusing primarily on the incredible story of New York Yankees' pitcher and Cuban great Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, who escaped from Cuba in a small boat and pitched nine months later in the World Series, the authors do not shy away from controversy. Even readers with little interest in baseball will find this book intriguing. Recommended for larger libraries.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Hank Waddles on June 20, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Even casual baseball fans know the story of Orlando "El Duque" Hernández's escape from Cuba and his eventual rise to success with the world champion New York Yankees. In their excellent book, Fainaru and Sánchez focus on El Duque's amazing story, but they also shed light on the back-door deals and behind-the-scenes espionage necessary to bring such defections about. They provide the reader with enough historical and political background to understand the economic pressures confronting Cuban baseball players, many of whom could be earning millions of dollars in the United States. Many of the stories are heart-wrenching, as families are divided and dreams are put on hold. Most interesting, though, are those players who remain loyal to Castro and the oppressive Cuban system. El Duque's story, however, stands above all others. His journey from abject poverty to the World Series within a span of only ten months wouldn't play in Hollywood, but it does in the Bronx.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Thomas K. Reilly on May 10, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Loved this book and couldn't put it down! Steve Fainaru and Ray Sanchez take you inside Castro's Cuba and clearly document the dilemmas faced by its' athletes. This book is a suspenseful, gripping narrative which delves into the political intrigue surrounding El Duque's life in Cuba and escape from the island. It is enough to make a die-hard Red Sox fan appreciate El Duque and his fellow defectors. Thank you Steve Fainaru. You 'da man!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Matthaei on June 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Fidel Castro controls everything in Cuba. He governs not only the political aspects of the country, but also dictates every detail of life for the people under his leadership. Steve Fainaru and Ray Sanchez describe Castro's influence on baseball in their book, The Duke of Havana: Cuba, Baseball and the Search for the American Dream. Baseball serves as the ultimate venue for Castro to execute his power over Cuba because the sport incorporates the politics, economics, religion and entertainment for the country. For the participating professional athletes, baseball is not only a game, but also a way of life for them and their families. The sport separates the athletes from the rest of society by paying them higher salaries and providing them with nicer homes along with other advantages.
Fainaru uses the story of El Duque's defection to evoke sympathy for Cuban baseball players willing to take any risks to live out their dreams in the American Major League Baseball. However, the special treatment given to the athletes in the Bahamas further illustrates how sport sets its competitors away from the rest of society. Allowing the Cuban baseball players to leave while the other passengers remain in the Bahamian detention center emphasizes an overlooked injustice that exists in countries with professional athletic teams.
The Duke of Havana: Cuba, Baseball and the Search for the American Dream leads readers to believe baseball operates as the great equalizer. It plays upon the image of a poor, black Cuban rising above all odds to come to the United States and win the World Series. The underlying themes in the book, however, are far more thought provoking. The separation between professional athletes and the rest of society speaks volumes about the values of the different countries.
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By Eva McGowan on June 25, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The Duke of Havana is an enjoyable reading piece, written by two newspapermen, which shows the combination of baseball with Cuban history/ politics through the telling of the story of Orlando `El Duque' Hernandez and his journey from ideal Cuban sportsman to starting pitcher for the New York Yankees. Through baseball the history of Cuba is told from the period just before Fidel Castro came into power in the 1950s, his change of the baseball game in Cuba into one that exemplified the glory of the state, to its current troubles (Special Period of Time in Peace) since the Soviet Union's collapse that can be mirrored in baseball by Cuba's current hemorrhaging of Cuban baseball players defecting to the United States.
Overall the authors use baseball to show the state of the average Cuban in Cuba today and how it got to be this way through world events spanning back to the 1950s. It also demonstrates Castro's amazing political prowess through his ability for political weathering in where he has been able to adapt to the times to keep his hold on Cuba. It also, to some extent, tells the story of the anti-Castro forces against him on the other side of the Florida Straits.
While the story is written well and it is easy to follow the events/ history presented, a rudimentary knowledge of baseball history and rules as well as some knowledge of Cuban history is needed to fully understand this book. Some of the immigration rules/ situations are also not entirely explained but with some basic assumptions what is going on can usually be determined. The book was primarily researched through first hand interviews and this lends a very intimate feel for the material presented.
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By Nathan Krupke on June 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Ray Sanchez and Steve Fainaru give a good presentation of the occurrences surrounding the defection of Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez from Cuba in their book The Duke of Havana: baseball, Cuba, and the Search for the American Dream. They explain his reasoning for defecting and denounce stories that arose out of the sudden defection in the late 1990's.
Delving deeper past the main story, the authors present the Cuban Athletic Ministry and its product athletes in hopes of better explaining the seeming mass defection of many members of the Cuban National team throughout the mid and late nineties. By using interviews with defectors, the U.S. sports agents helping them, and baseball and government officials on both sides of the Florida Straits, the stories are presented with validity in a somewhat fair way politically and socially.
The book can be read as a good story of a man's determination to fulfill his childhood dreams and oppression or as an example of the political and social aspects of the circumstances. It ties these facets of the account to the basic central story without being exceedingly academic in the presentation.
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