48 of 58 people found the following review helpful
A Captivating Adventure,
This review is from: Havana: An Earl Swagger Novel (Hardcover)
Stephen Hunter has a great knack for country attitudes, good shooting, complex stories and politics.
In "Havana" Hunter captures a moment in time when Castro is just emerging (the Yankees having failed to offer him a $500 signing bonus) and Batista is back in power with the help of the American mob.
Just as in "Hot Springs" where Hunter resurrected the great pre-Las Vegas center of gambling and prostitution (matched in that era only by Youngstown), here he reminds us that Havana in the early 1950s was a city of power seekers, tourist pleasures and American and Cuban mobster domination and corruption.
He weaves together a brilliant Soviet agent, Earl Swagger (hated by the Soviet system for his individuality and protagonist of almost half Hunter's novels), the CIA, the American mob, Fidel Castro and the Cuban secret police into a wonderfully complex and constantly intriguing story.
His characterizations of a young Castro are worth the entire book: "Speshnev looked hard at him and, try as he could, only saw a familiar type, thrown up by revolutions and wars the world over. An opportunist with a lazy streak, and also a violent one... No vision beyond the self, but a willingness to use the vernacular of the struggle for his own private careerism." (p. 101)
"He does carry on don't he? He reminds me of a movie star. They get famous too young and they never recover. They always think they're important." Earl Swagger on young Fidel (p 319)
Whether for fun or learning or both, this is a worthwhile novel.