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Fidel Castro: My Life: A Spoken Autobiography Hardcover – January 8, 2008

4.0 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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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From Booklist

*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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1st edition (January 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416553282
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416553281
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #875,879 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By G. L. Rowsey on March 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The First Section of this review is an introduction to Chapters 1 through 9 of Fidel Castro's spoken autobiography by Ignacio Ramonet. Following the First Section, the Second Section consists of four questions which Ignacio Ramonet asks Castro, and Fidel's answers to them. These questions and answers concern occurrences within Cuba after the triumph of the Revolutionary War on December 31, 1959, and prior to April 17, 1961.

First Section.

The most impressive thing to me about the first nine chapters of Ramonet's book is how understandably Castro conveys the fact that the Cuban Revolutionary War eschewed terrorism (defined as executing captured, non-uniformed combatants or using random violence against civilians.) Fidel considered such terrorism immoral, but more to the point, he considered it immoral because unnecessary. Terrorism would have been highly counter-productive where the soil for revolution vis-à-vis the imperialistic United States was seeded more widely and far earlier than in Vietnam, for example -- where the Vietcong did employ terrorism in a war against an invasion by America essentially indistinguishable from its unprovoked attack on Iraq in 2003.

Similarly, Fidel invoked Che Guevarra's medical skills (and those of other revolutionary soldiers as the revolution gained momentum) to treat wounded Batista soldiers on the battlefield, once the non-fatally wounded revolutionary soldiers were evacuated or cared for. And not infrequently, these cared-for Batista forces, after returning to health, joined the revolutionary forces in the war against Batista.

Chapter 1 is an introduction by the book's author, and it should be read first and carefully by anyone largely ignorant of the facts regarding Cuba since 1953, which is to say by 99.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Just arrived by mail, just translated and available, I am reading the preface of Fidel's autobiography by co-author/interviewer, Ignacio Ramonet. The preface is titled "A Hundred Hours with Fidel."

You know how some movies can allow you to talk at low moments to yourself or a companion, or some TV shows can, too. Yet, other movies demand your attention to the extent the world must be silent to savor every word, every observation.

Baldwin does this for me. James Baldwin is to me, I see now, what Jose Marti is to Fidel, the embodiment of a spiritual value, transcending political dogma, left or right.

Opening this book, I had to shut off the radio and the world and let my savory honey-sweetened espresso get cold ...

Fidel's selection of Ramonet, a Spanish journalist and editor or Le Monde, is reportedly smart and political. He wanted someone who had heaped both praise and criticism on Fidel and Cuba, someone on the outsde who wouldn't be easily accused of being a Cuban agent.

Ramonet is beginning this autobiography/interview [over 700 pages] with his first meeting Fidel and the unrecorded long hours they spent in Cuba and on foreign official visits. The book was completed a few months before Fidel's "sudden" illness, as if Fidel knew ...

What can I say? You get an inspiring picture/impression of the man writer Alice Walker calls A PRIEST.

Ramonet writes:
"What I discovered during this time was a private, almost shy Fidel, a polite, affable man who pays attention to each person he talks to and speaks without affectation, yet with the manners and gestures of a somewhat old-fashioned courtesy that has earned him the titel of the last Spanish gentleman.
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Format: Hardcover
This inspiring book is the result of conversations held in 2003-05. It is an autobiography à deux, `an oral summing-up of Fidel Castro's life by Fidel himself'.

Chapters cover his childhood and youth, his meeting Che Guevara, the 1959 Cuban revolution, the failed US attack at the Bay of Pigs, the 47-year US blockade, the incessant media attacks on Cuba, the US state's terrorist attacks on Cuba which have killed 3,500 people, the October 1962 crisis, Che's death, the collapse of the Soviet Union, globalisation, Cuba's relations with Spain, France and Latin America, and Cuba today.

Fidel is rightly proud of Cuba's magnificent achievements in education and health. Cuba's primary school children are first in the world in languages and maths. Cuba is first in the world in teachers per person and has the smallest class sizes. Cuba is educating thousands of people from Africa, Asia and Latin America, without charging a cent. Cuba provides government-sponsored scholarships to nearly 30,000 students from 121 countries currently enrolled in Cuba's universities, some 23,000 of whom are being trained as doctors.

Cuba is first in the world in doctors per person and is the largest educator of doctors in the world, ten times more than the USA. Cuba sends thousands of doctors to Africa, with its 30 million AIDS patients, while the whole EU cannot send even a hundred doctors there, instead stealing Africa's doctors and nurses. 37,000 Cuban health workers, including 18,000 doctors, are providing services in 79 countries. Since 2004, Cuba's Operation Miracle has restored sight to 1,000,000 patients from 32 countries.

Fidel has much to contribute to the debate on globalisation.
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