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Target Culebra Paperback – December 9, 2008

4.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

RICHARD D. COPAKEN served as a White House Fellow in President Lyndon Johnson's White House. For thrity-nine years thereafter, he engaged in the practice of international law at the Washington, D.C. law firm of Covington and Burling. Copaken graduated from Harvard Law School, where he served as editor of the Harvard Law Review. His writings have appeared in professional journals as well as in newspapers and magazines such as the Los Angeles Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and The San Juan Star. Target Culebra is his first book-length publication. Also an artist, his paintings have been exhibited in Japan, Brazil, Switzerland, and in the United States. He lives in Potomac, Maryland, with his wife, Marjorie.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 490 pages
  • Publisher: La Editorial, Universidad de Puerto Rico; First Edition edition (December 9, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0847701654
  • ISBN-13: 978-0847701650
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #635,945 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Sean P. Mckee on February 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I had planned to bring "Target Culebra" with me to read during a long flight for a business trip. I figured I'd read the first few chapters before the trip to get a head start, but once I started, I couldn't put it down.

"Target Culebra" is the true journey of one man's fight in the early 1970's to free the 700 people of Culebra, a small Puerto Rican island, from the U.S. Navy's use and abuse of the inhabited island as target practice. Not only is the book extremely well written, the true stories of the author, Richard Copaken, and his dogged persistence to obtain justice mixed with the details of the bureaucracy in Washington D.C. are phenomenal. Even more unbelievable is how Capaken, a young and inexperienced lawyer, could penetrate the layers of in the Senate, the Congress and the Navy through sheer logic and determination. It is mind boggling how he used his connections, like his classmates from law school, to find out the right sources to call, how to get the right messages to the right people and how quickly he reacted to the ever changing landscape of the battle for the island of Culebra's independence from the Navy. The real trick was how Copaken utilized the media to Culebra's advantage whenever he had a chance (and all along without ever going back on his word).

Again, Copaken's stories were incredible, ranging from the bizarre and comical chase after a Navy Admiral down 10 flights of stairs as the Admiral tried to escape questioning on the Culebra issue to tense discussions with Senators, Congressmen and the Navy and even an intriguing meeting with the CIA at Langley.
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Format: Hardcover
This books deserves wider circulation. The publisher needs to get it in major reviewers hands. It also needs to be sent to professors who teach public policy. Why? Because the book shows how one man's efforts to right a wrong on a small island in Puerto Rico, runs into the US Navy and all their friends and fiends in high up places. Copaken chases Admiral Zumwalt down 10 flights of stairs, hears from Al Haig, works with Senator Sccop Jackson and each time victory is in the US Navy finds a way to add another twist and turn. Working through the system, the courts and congress Copaken keeps the fire on when most people (especially working on the case as a pro bono effort of his law firm) would have quit.
The book takes place over 30 years and the US Navy almost sinks his boat every time.
This book is highly relevant today as we see the underside of govermental power and lengths the "power" goes to protect itself.
Too bad the author died this fall and could not take it out on tour it might have made a difference.
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Format: Paperback
This book is not for everyone. It's written by a lawyer, who builds his case in great detail, conversation by conversation and document by document. For those that require quick gratification and lots of action, this book will be a bore. But for those who care to read about the details, it will be quite rewarding.

Without sensationalism, the case that this book builds is, nonetheless, somewhat shocking. But the big take-away from this story is how creative a lawyer can be. With doggedness, intelligence, and good connections, the author managed to save Culebra and Vieques - American islands, both - from being targets of outdated, unuseable, Navy bombs. He does this partly through the court system, but also by working the Congress, and ultimately, the White House.

This is an important read for those who are interested in public policy, an interesting read for those who are interested in the history of Culebra and Vieques, and a satisfying read for those who love a good David and Goliath story.
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