Shop Auto Winter Products Beauty Best Books of the Year Black Friday Deals Week nav_sap_hiltonhonors_launch For a limited time. 3 months for $0.99. Amazon Music Unlimited. New subscribers only. Terms and conditions apply. Electronics Gift Guide Starting at $39.99 Try it first with samples Handmade Gift Shop Book a house cleaner for 2 or more hours on Amazon Early Black Friday deals: save 40% or more on Amazon Video Early Black Friday deals: save 40% or more on Amazon Video Early Black Friday deals: save 40% or more on Amazon Video  Three new members of the Echo family Save $50 on All-New Fire HD 10. Limited-time offer. $30 off Kindle Paperwhite Trade in. Get paid. Go shopping. Shop Now HTL17_gno

Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
118
Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba: The Biography of a Cause
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:$13.02+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime


on May 3, 2016
Very complete history of the Bacardi empire as it intertwines with the history of Cuba. It is by turns fascinating, but often slows down because of so many names and details. I would say this book is definitive, just not always easily readable. It is a bit of a chore to finish the book. Gjelten is to be commended for his exhaustive research. He definitely sheds light on the conditions that made it possible for Fidel Castro to maintain his stranglehold on the island for so long. I would recommend it to those who have a fascination with Cuban history. Otherwise, it's slow-going.
2 helpful votes
3 helpful votes
|
0Comment|Report abuse
on January 2, 2015
I bought this book on a whim while vacationing in Puerto Rico. The business people I was meeting on my trip expressed concerns about the current events in Cuba and I wanted to update my knowledge of Cuba's history but wanted something that I could also enjoy. This was the perfect book for that purpose.

Tom Gjelten weaves the story of the Bacardi family through Cuba's history in a captivating manner. I found there was very good balance between telling the stories of the development of the Bacardi family business and the historical facts relating to Cuba's own development. This must have been a very difficult task, the founding members certainly could have had their own biographies written in a full length book. I finished this book wishing to see the notes Mr. Gjelten took but didn't publish and wishing to know more about certain personalities. It is clear the task of editing for the book was probably as monumental as it was to write it.

In discussing the family business and its development over the generations, Mr. Gjelten is consistent in his perspective illustrating the goals and the focus of those managing the business. This model creates a broad understanding of how the company achieved their successes and some failures. I found this to be very interesting, especially in comparison to what was happening to the Cuban government over the years.

I recommend this book, it is interesting, well written and informative . . . you may also learn how to make a few new cocktails!
3 helpful votes
4 helpful votes
|
0Comment|Report abuse
on July 27, 2016
Wow, I wish I’d read this before going to Cuba! The Bacardi family and Cuba go way back, to the mid-1800s. This fascinating book brings you along on a historic ride through Cuban history, through the lives of the Bacardi family and their famous rum-distilling business, Bacardi Rum. Through a chronology of historic revolutions, upheavals and governments, five generations of the family remained fiercely loyal Cubans. Their family business finally was seized by Castro in 1960 – when there was no longer any room for private enterprise or wealth in Cuba. Smart business decisions prior to this saved the company and its trademark, the family is scattered but the business of Bacardi rum survived and thrived. This is a wonderful and quite readable narrative of the historic events that shaped Cuba’s past and present. Highly recommended reading!
review image
1 helpful vote
2 helpful votes
|
0Comment|Report abuse
on September 3, 2015
I selected this book to learn more about Cuba's history. Turns out the book is a history of both 20th Cuba and the Barcardi family. The Barcardis built a business empire based on rum at rh beginning of the 20th century. It grew slowly until Castro took over the government, with the family's support in 1959. Shortly afterwards all of their assets in Cuba were confiscated and turned over to the government.

Interesting insight in how an industrial family managed to control their company for 4 generations. And how the company's leadership navigated the political systems to continue growing their company in the layer half of the century.

A bit long, but I can't think of anything that could have been eliminated from the book. Comprehensive footnotes and bibliography.
1 helpful vote
2 helpful votes
|
0Comment|Report abuse
on November 23, 2008
Tom Gjelten is a reporter for National Public Radio, with extensive background in foreign affairs. He shows is skill in understanding international relations with this masterful history of Cuba, from colonial days to the present. This is a beautifully documented history, with footnotes, a detailed list of sources, and a comprehensive index.

The history of the Cuban nation is interwoven with the history of the Bacardi family, from the first Catalan immigrant, Facundo Bacardi, to the present diaspora living in exile (except for Gilda and Gustavin, who I happened to know as a child, and who were and are sympathizers of the Castro regime and are still in Cuba). He dutifully relates the sequence of presidents and dictators of the island, with the social and political background of each regime. This may sound dull and perhaps too academic, but the struggle of the family throughout the history of the island gives it a personal and involving dimension.

In the last chapter, Gjelten speaks to the dynamics of the present political situation of Cuba, both from the point of view of the exile community, as well as from the needs of the post-Castro Cuban nation. This makes the book an important resource for anyone interested in being involved, either emotionally or in a practical, active way, in the future Cuba.
20 helpful votes
21 helpful votes
|
0Comment|Report abuse
on December 21, 2016
A readable history of Cuba, told through the lens of one family business. The Bacardis are Cuban patriots, and through many generations they dip in and out of public service in the cause of first, independence, and later, for more democratic and less oligarchic government for the nation. Along the way, they become, along with other Cuban elites, comfortably close to US and European culture. As they support Castro in the overthrow of the corrupt Batista regime, they soon find themselves targeted as enemies of the new state.
1 helpful vote
|
0Comment|Report abuse
on June 23, 2015
An fascinating story of a fascinating family of patriots and businessmen. The best business/family biography I have ever read. This is equal parts the story of Bacardi (the family), Bacardi (the company) and Cuba and how those three entities have been linked for better or worse for 150 years. Gjelten obviously spent a lot of time researching this book and even more time putting together this complicated history. His ability to weave together the history of Cuba, rum, revolution, family and business makes for an incredible read.
1 helpful vote
2 helpful votes
|
0Comment|Report abuse
on May 21, 2012
Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba is a fascinating look at the recent history (the last 150 years) of this intriguing island just 90 miles off our shores. It shows the plight of an idealistic, civic minded, family and their struggle to liberate their beloved island from the imperial powers (Spain and the US) to create their version of a benevolent democracy for the good of the people. They wanted the best for all the Cuban people (white, black,"bronze" and mulatto). They wanted a Cuba free from imperialism, racism and classism. They wanted "Cuba Libre."

Unfortunately, once Cuba liberated itself from the US and the Spanish, the other more brutal forces on the island overtook the idealists. A small cabal, led by Batista, turned the island into a criminal enterprise that was the playground for the mafia and repressed the peole. In turn they were overthrown by Castro who chose to run Cuba like a communist dictatorship. This book is an intriguing view of this tiny, little island which could be considered as a rreal life version of "King of the Hill" where the bad uys win and the idealists have to watch from the sidelines.

But it's more than that. It is also a success story about a family business that has acheived world reknown. The Bacardi brand began in the small island town of Santiago, Cuba in the 1860s. From there it has transformed itself to an international powerhouse that is now one of the largest liquor manufacturers in the world. In that span the Bacardi's moved out of Cuba (after the most recent Cuban revolution)to build factories and Headquarters in Puerto Rico, Bermuda and other locales around the world. They acheived their success from generation to genration by creating a meritocracy where the best man wins and the others respect the decison and keep working for the good of the brand.

But through all of their success is a longing to go back to Cuba and create the benevolent democracy that their partiarch, Emilio Bacardi, dreamed of when he fought for Cuban independence in the "Spanish American War" in 1895. We Americans remember Teddy Roosevelt and the "Rough Riders" but the Bacardi's remember their leaders Marti and Maceo, who fought for their side for a free Cuba. Emilio wanted to create a different world from the one that has emerged in the century after. He wanted a pure "Cuba Libre" and it would be nice to think that some day his heirs may figure out how to get rid of Castro and deliver on that dream... That is the overall promise of the book. One day maybe the Bacardi clan can go back to Cuba and build the country the right way...
1 helpful vote
2 helpful votes
|
0Comment|Report abuse
on March 2, 2016
Great book. Bit long but was surprisingly balanced in covering (some of ) the pro's and cons of the revolution. Learned way more about Cuban rum than expected but was interesting from a business and history perspective. For instance: you can't buy Cuban rum here (yet ) but you can bring some back( if you go) BUT you can buy it in Europe but you CANT bring it back from there! Learn why. Hnt: Jessie Helms is involved.
1 helpful vote
2 helpful votes
|
0Comment|Report abuse
on June 26, 2011
I was not born on the Island as My parents(Habanero,Pinareño and Guarijito de una Playa en Santa Clara thank You) were. Nor would I visit the Island until it is Democratic in every aspect once again and not piecemeal so-called democracy,my family was not wealthy and was Apolitical and fled for Political not Monetary Reasons nor they come to Exploit this great country as later Arrivals have sadly to return several times to the island "sin Verguenza" ninguna,Also I do not drink at all nor smoke,yet my politics are Self-Described and proudly RightWing AntiCastro and AntiBatista Yet Pro-Prio/Pro-Autentico(without the Grau Socialistic Elements and land redistribution) Variety. This book cannot be criticized for not trying to paint a fair and actually surprisingly balanced and refreshing look at a Family from Oriente(be suspicious,history shows Orientales always messing up a good thing see batista and Fidel)who according to the Author who works off all places when he wrote this for NPR(hardly a Rightwing endeavor nor a bone to grind)were a Progressive family, Therein lies one of it's Flaws,the word "Progressive" is seen throughout the book as though it is a Godsend savior.The family does seem to have a rich history and its roots fighting for democracy stretch back to the Spanish(Its the Cuban American War not Spanish American,Cubans have been neglected in that regard a lot.)to Batista and Sadly Pro-Fidel later to be Anti-Fidel,It is a worthy history lesson when People who seem to be great orators and have that "hope" ingrained in too many only to be duped later.I do not like the fact the one of the early Founders had Anti-Church Leanings since To Him Catholicism was in duplicity with The Spaniards,and he had Masonic Leanings(again AntiChurch) and the author seems to delight that fact about the founders being of the enlightenment,Victor Hugo,Etcera and not being of the Church,(which To me despite the Modern Church In Cuba which is pandering to the Regime,I am still a Hardline Catholic.)Also,the Author seems to use the "Colossus" quote from Marti and twist it in way to hint at some sort of evil American So-called Imperialism,there is also the Annoying Cuban Elite word(as opposed to an American Elite Mainly Liberal from The Western and Eastern Seaboards Perhaps?)as if being Rich or inheritance should be looked down upon?Fidel's Father was Wealthy as pointed out in the book as was Che TheCoward.Despite these flaws and depending on sources as Dubious As Don Bohning(The Herald or the Tass), Marifeli Perez-Stable(apologist for the Regime,rumored to be a Spy)Cubans who are under the employment of the state and are on the island as well the travel to the island for "research".(annoying typical Romanticism)Non-Cubans Such Louis A Perez Jr,(Cuba Between Revolution and Reform) and of course an Anglo such as Tom Gjelten with that Liberal mindset of Guilt Should not Deter one from reading this book,and reap the lessons of history and One's Cuban Identity.
1 helpful vote
2 helpful votes
|
0Comment|Report abuse