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Fidel Castro: My Life: A Spoken Autobiography Hardcover – January 8, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
In February, 2002, Ramonet, the editor of French monthly Le Monde diplomatique, began a two-year conversation with the controversial Cuban head of state, a collaboration that resulted in this Q&A-style, Castro-approved look into the revolutionary leader's life, from boyhood through his half-century in power. Ramonet proves a worthy interviewer, well prepared to tackle the famed Communist revolutionary's legacy, and while many of Castro's answers are predictably self-serving-"I've fought adamantly against any manifestation of the cult of personality"-the bombastic leader's views on political figures and world events are genuinely thoughtful, and at times fascinating. High points include accounts of his relationship with Khrushchev during the Cuban missile crisis, backed up by excerpts from letters they exchanged; his advice for Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez during a 2002 coup attempt; and his sincere, positive assessment of American President Jimmy Carter. Though readers may find it hard to take this authorized life story at face value, Castro's first attempt to tell his complete story provides an engaging perspective on the man and the world he helped shape.
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*Starred Review* Spanish journalist Ramonet sat down with Castro over the course of many hours, engaging him in long, involved discussions about his revolutionary life (and little about his personal life). The result is, in the words of the interviewer, Castro’s “political testament, an oral summoning-up of Fidel Castro’s life by Fidel himself at almost eighty.” That rather simple description does not begin to cover the magnitude and significance of this major document. Presented in question-and-answer format, the book was originally published in Spain in 2006; its subsequent release in an English-language version has been “totally revised, amended and completed personally” by Castro himself. No surprise the interviewer is pro-Castro, and one would expect his collaborative effort with Castro to be one-sided, woven as it is from his subject’s strongly held personal opinions. Nevertheless, the detail here, filtered, of course, through Castro’s memory and consciousness, nevertheless proves enormously fascinating, with some of their most interesting discussions centering on Che Guevara and on the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. By itself an incomplete history of the Cuban Revolution, to be sure, but an important—the ultimate insider view—contribution to the complete picture. --Brad Hooper
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Top Customer Reviews
This is a great book for anyone wanting to learn more about Cuba, Castro, or how U.S. policies are viewed from the other side of the debate. Castro argues that the United States tries to undermine Cuba's government, therefore, forcing the government to restrict certain freedoms in order to survive. It is fascinating to read Castro's opinions and get the perspective of the man who lived through the events. Castro does, however, admit to mistakes he has made and how his views have changed over time.
One downside is that the book was done with the help of a historian who could refresh Castro's mind on some events. It only detracts from the book if the reader feels that Castro's memory and perspective might have been influenced, however, I think it is minimal if at all. In any case, the book is an interesting study of history and memory by a very controversial leader.
If you enjoy reading this book, also check out the movie "Che el argentino" (two parts).
Cuba has always been known for its culture, especially music. But before the revolution it was known to many as a virtual colony of the US, which provided tourists with gambling and prostitution. Today, for a country as small as it is, it has a reputation for providing medical care around the world. In Ukraine and Russia, it is remembered as the country who took in the children of Chernobyl, when the Soviet government was more interested in covering the whole thing up.
And Cuba is known around the world, but especially in Africa for their internationalist missions, which helped keep Angola independent, helped to free Namibia, and dealt the apartheid regime a military and moral blow that it was unable to recover from. In 1988, South Africa withdrew from Angola and Namibia, and in 1990, the ANC was unbanned and Nelson Mandela released. On July 26, 1991 Mandela spoke along with Fidel Castro at the anniversary of the revolution celebration, and said "the crushing defeat of the racist army at Cuito Cuanavale [in Angola] was a victory for the whole of Africa.... The defeat of the racist army at Cuito Cuanavale made it possible for me to be here today!" (How Far We Slaves Have Come! South Africa and Cuba in Today's World and Cuba and Angola: Fighting for Africa's Freedom and Our Own. Also see the two books by Piero Gleijeses: Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976 and Visions of Freedom: Havana, Washington, Pretoria, and the Struggle for Southern Africa, 1976-1991.
Cuba has played a huge role in fighting racism both at home and internationally (see From the Escambray to the Congo: In the Whirlwind of the Cuban Revolution and Our History Is Still Being Written: The Story of Three Chinese-Cuban Generals in the Cuban Revolution.
It has opened the road to the liberation of women (see Women in Cuba: The making of a revolution within the revolution. From Santiago de Cuba and the Rebel Army, to the birth of the Federation of Cuban Women and Marianas in Combat: Tete Puebla and the Mariana Grajales Women's Platoon in Cuba's Revolutionary War 1956-58.
It has made use of the United Nations as a forum to tell the world the truth (see To Speak the Truth: Why Washington's 'Cold War' Against Cuba Doesn't End and U. S. Hands Off the Mideast!: Cuba Speaks Out at the United Nations.
Today it needs the support of the world against the US embargo and to free the remaining three of the Cuban Five The Cuban Five: Who they are; why they were framed; why they should be free and Voices from Prison. The Cuban Five..