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Comment: The item is fairly worn but continues to work perfectly. Signs of wear can include aesthetic issues such as scratches, dents, and worn corners. All pages and the cover are intact, but the dust cover may be missing. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting, but the text is not obscured or unreadable.
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Fidel Castro Paperback – August 17, 1995

4.0 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

One comes away from this major biography with an image of the Cuban dictator as a man who is a leader but not a thinker or innovator. Emphasizing Castro's often wrongheaded impulsiveness, Quirk ( The Mexican Revolution and the Catholic Church ) chronicles how his foreign and domestic crash programs have done Cuba more harm than good. Quirk's richly detailed, psychologically acute portrait reveals more about Castro's unique personality and character than do previous biographies. A thorough examination of the leader's homophobia and difficulties with women, for instance, reveals a life spent being looked after by females without being able to form a lasting sexual relationship with any of them--including the 20-year association with protective lioness Celia Sanchez, which the author likens to that between a son and doting mother. Quirk's concluding assessment of the Maximum Leader is harsh: Castro, he argues, has become a caricature of his earlier self. History, far from absolving him, has simply passed him by. Photos not seen by PW .
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

In a vivid, fascinating portrait of Cuba's ``Maximum Leader,'' Quirk (The Mexican Revolution and the Catholic Church, 1910-29, 1973, etc.--not reviewed) traces Castro's evolution from marginalized radical to Communist dictator. Castro, the son of an uncultured nouveau riche farmer from Spain, was educated in religious schools and at the Univ. of Havana, where he received a law degree and where, though undistinguished academically, he had experiences important for his radical career: He joined several groups of insubordinate student- hoodlums, and he organized a protest that resulted in the burning of buses. In recounting his subject's career as a radical (after Batista seized power in 1952, Castro abandoned his law practice for full-time radical politics), Quirk emphasizes the utter ordinariness of events that Castro later invested with mythological significance--particularly his unsuccessful ragtag attack on the Moncada barracks in July 1952; his friendship with the Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara; his 1956 return to Cuba with 90 followers in the leaky yacht Granma (which resulted in the immediate capture or death of most of Castro's force); and his struggle in the Sierra Maestra against increasingly demoralized government forces. Quirk shows that Castro, though long influenced by Marxist writings, identified his movement as Communist only after repeated confrontations with the US over American business activity in Cuba. Castro militarized the nation's economy and, in accordance with Soviet policy, tried to export revolution to the rest of Latin America as well as to Africa, even while brutally stifling civil liberties and dissent at home. Quirk ends with a look at Castro's refusal to reform his political system despite declining living standards and international isolation in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union: ``By all appearances...[Castro] would see Cuba destroyed before he gave up his authority and his prerogatives.'' A balanced, well-written, and definitive examination of the long, turbulent, and often unheroic career of the architect of Cuba's revolution. (Photographs) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 898 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Revised ed. edition (August 17, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393313271
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393313277
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.7 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,370,754 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on July 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
I have read this book recently as well as all of the reviews by customers. There's some amazing stuff in these reviews, by the way, ranging from "I like Cubans and they are cool people" to "I hate Texans and patriotism."
Whatever. Quirk's book is an excellent treatment of Castro and of the troubled history of a small nation often caught between two struggling superpowers, whether it was Spain and the US or Russia and the US. I think he captures the essence of Castro's adventurer friend Ernesto Guevara (a murdering dilettante who has, amazingly, become a cult hero in death mainly because of his looks and a good press agent named Herbert Matthews)and of his effeminate brother Raul as well. I have spoken with Jose Pardo Llada, who was an early supporter of Castro and knew him intimately for many years. Pardo is also one of the main references used by Quirk (he uses Pardo's "Fidel" and "El Che" extensively, for example, in the early chapters) and Pardo feels that Quirk has captured the leadership styles of Castro quite well. Yes, the man is charismatic but also highly erratic and given to extreme highs and extreme lows. He is also very, very clever and knows how to use the stage to his benefit. These are Castro's qualities and behaviors, and Quirk does a solid job in capturing and describing them.
I particularly like the analysis of Castro's youth and of the environment from which he emerged.
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Format: Paperback
Though a bit long and tedious 900 pages, this is an excellent comprehensive and well-organized biography of Fidel Castro: from the days of his childhood to his rise to power in Cuba and the world stage. Quirk's first chapter is probably the best 30-page narration of Castro's pre-revolutionary days, from his childhood in his father's affluent plantation, thru his Havana University days and initial affiliation with Eduardo Chibas' liberal flavored Orthodox Party. Quirk tells us more about life at the Castro estates that by the 1920's, Castro's father had become wealthy, with close to 25,000 acres, one of the largest estates in Cuba. We learn that from childhood Fidel Castro respected and admired his father's strong macho and much feared persona and counted weapons as his most prized possessions- including rifles, pistols and shotguns. His life, as a child and as a revolutionary, was one long love affair with firearms and his speeches would have many references to blood and to the prospects of violence and death.

I was highly impressed with Quirk's narration of the early days of the Cuban Revolution (1959-60), a period when Fidel Castro deceived his liberal and moderate allies in the struggle against Batista back from the Moncada days in 1953, was able to form an alliance with the Communists starting in 1959, consolidating his power as defense minister and eventually having a strong enough power base by mid-1960 when he cancelled elections, suppressed freedom of the press, and started a campaign of property confiscation. Castro's interaction with high level cabinet members is covered, showing his micromanagement style and tendency to provide direction in capricious whims on anything from the agrarian reform to housing projects.
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By A Customer on December 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is book is a welcome addition and sheds much needed light on the phenonmenon of Castro. It is thoroughly researched and quite lengthy-perhaps too much so however. After completing a masters degree in Latin American studies and pouring over the vast literature on Cuba, I definitely recommend this book but suggest reading others on the topic as well. Cuban studies is such a politicized field and it is remarkably difficult to find academics, pundits, and others writing in this area who aren't completely biased in one way or the other. In addition to this book, I recommend books and articles by Jorge Dominguez, who is probably the most noted scholar writing on Cuba today.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the best biography of Fidel Castro out there. It is the most through and covers the most information. Although Guerrilla Prince is better written this book does provide more detailed information on all aspects of his life. You can see development of childhood up through his dominance of power. Castro is one of the most interesting men in Latin America and whether you call him a dictator or a revolutionary this book covers him fairly. Highly recommend.
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By A Customer on May 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
Don't be misled by the negative reviews presented here, they are more political diatribe I think, than an assestment of an author's work. I found it objective, a difficult task when dealing with such a polarized figure. I found it intelligent. Along with Ellis' biography of James Joyce, one of the most sobering and well done biographies I've read.
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By A Customer on December 9, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is obviously a well reserched book. Sometimes a little "heavy" in depth and to extreme detail, however the detailed account of his younger years helps to understand the type of person he is! In power for over 30 years(longer than any contemporary leader) Quirk gives a good insight to how such a person strategically thinks and the effect of charisma. His obsession of not conforming to the Western capitalism economic order to become a subservient economy to the rich Western nations appears to give him incredible drive and motivation. If you want to gain some knowledge about Castro, this is a good one!
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