Sunday, August 31, 2008

Book Review: Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba.

Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba (being published next week) is at once a colorful family saga and a carefully researched corrective to caricatures of decadent pre-revolutionary Cuba and the 50-year disaster of Fidel Castro's rule. Contrary to the impression that Cuba's elite uniformly backed dictator Fulgencio Batista, for example, Gjelten shows that the Bacardis withheld their financial support, even when they received a written demand from one of Batista's goons saying, "We will collect the funds for this event from friends of the cause . . . among whom we include you." To ignore such a demand was risky, Gjelten writes, but the head of the family "was as courageous as he was stubborn. He passed the letter on to his secretary, with a brief instruction scrawled across the top: 'Return -- regretting not being able to cooperate.' "

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