Customer Reviews for

Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba...and Then Lost It to the Revolution

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 48 Customer Reviews
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  • Posted May 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The Good Old Days

    Well written, well researched. A peek into how the mob ran Cuba and came close to establishing their very own country. The book has the usual suspects; Lansky, Castro, Battista, Luciano, etc., but also focuses on lesser known Cuban players and on the island. The mob screwed it up, the government screwed it up, and fifty years on we still can't go there. A pity. Sounded like a great place.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    True crime author T.J. English provides a fascinating look at the Mafia in Cuba from the end of WW II to the Communist takeover

    Just after WWII, the American government deported Mafia boss "Lucky" Luciano sending him home to Sicily. However, instead of crossing the Atlantic, Luciano landed in Cuba where financial genius Meyer Lansky was setting up shop. Cuban dictator Batista and the island's laws encouraged gambling investment. Soon Havana became the center of gambling, prostitution, and nightclubs while also turning into the central bank of mob activities in North America. Tourism flourished. While the United States struggled with the beginning of the civil rights movement in the 1950s, Havana was the true melting pot, as the Mafia welcomed anyone willing to spend. Everything collapses when Castro's revolution kicks Battista and the mob off the island in 1959.

    True crime author T.J. English provides a fascinating look at the Mafia in Cuba from the end of WW II to the Communist takeover. His theory is that Batista worked for Luciano as opposed to the prevalent belief that the mob chief was a welcomed "guest" of the dictator as long as he paid for the privilege. Fans will enjoy the deep look at the mob controlled activities in Havana and the author's contention of "How the Mob Owned Cuba ... And Then Lost It to the Revolution".

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2008

    Compelling read, even if you're not a Mafia buff

    I've never really been fascinated by real-life tales of gangsters, but a recent re-watching of ''The Godfather, Part II'' happened to coincide with the publication of this book, so I gave it a shot. T.J. English's new book is so much more than a Mob-related history. There's political intrigue, the economics of tourism, gambling, and sugarcane, Fidel Castro's Cuban Revolution, and an astounding [for the time] level of cultural intermingling as whites, blacks, and Latinos came together at the Mafia-run hotels, casinos, and nightclubs in the 1950s. Even if you don't normally spring for titles in the True Crime section, make an exception for this one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2008

    Great book for anyone interested the Italian Mafia and its involvement in both Cubas nightlife and in its government

    I have a huge interest in both the Italian mafia and in latin/hispanic history, so this book was a fantastic look at how both intermixed. It gives excellent detail and background of all the major players including Luciano, Lansky, Batista and Castro, among others'even a bit about Frank Sinatra'. I particularly enjoyed that the author spoke in an objective tone. I would suggest this book to anyone with an interest in the mob or how American interests impacted Cuba during that time period.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2008

    Sheer Brilliance

    This is an amazing book that engrossed my attention from start to finish. The contents was well researched and exceptionally written. A must have book for any fan of the True Crime genre.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 16, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Havana Nocturne is a history book that wants to be made into a f

    Havana Nocturne is a history book that wants to be made into a film. The elements are all there: Cuba on the edge of revolution, the superstars of the American Mob, dream-palace hotels and casinos, celebrities, corruption, debauchery, and the boom times of the 1950s. It even name-checks The Godfather, Part II on several occasions.

    But it is a history, and a chewy one at that. Right out of the gate, author English hits you with a blizzard of largely Italian and Cuban names (many of which will bleed together if you're not used to sorting them out) and the skein of alliances, feuds and friendships that tie them all together. This is not only a recounting of the rise of the Havana Mob, but also the flourishing of American organized crime following World War II, meaning we also get cameo appearances by Estes Kefauver, J. Edgar Hoover and obscure mob bosses from outside New York City and Miami. You have to pay attention. Luckily, once he has his milieu established, English keeps the proceedings going quickly and throws in enough anecdotes to keep his work out of textbook-land.

    There's plenty in here to piss off partisans on all sides: Sinatra as Meyer Lansky's bagman! JFK in a Mob-sponsored Cuban orgy! The CIA supplying Batista! The CIA supplying Castro! And on it goes. Perhaps the most fascinating creature in this zoo is Fulgencio Batista, the two-time dictator of Cuba, Mob accomplice, U.S. client, the handsome, charming, delusional sumptuary who ruled his land through corruption, censorship and terror. It's a picture that's been painted before, but once again it will make you wonder whether the Castros have been any worse for Cuba than what came before them.

    Havana Nocturne could use a map of 1950s Havana and some charts showing the relationships between the members of its sprawling, shifting cast. More pictures of the pleasure palaces would also help (English rhapsodizes about the plush hotels and casinos, but we're still left wondering what they looked like). While English gives us a sketch of how Cuba's sex workers fared during the casino bubble, some more discussion of the impact on the average Habanero of the Havana Mob and the Batista regime would be welcome and would help explain how Castro was able to conquer the nation.

    If you're interested in postwar Mob history, the American colonial influence in the Caribbean or the rise of Castro, you could do worse than Havana Nocturne. Don't expect a beach-easy read, and beware of some of the blurbs; this ain't Elmore Leonard or Hemingway. Still, it's a good story about a fairy-tale time and place.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2012

    Sucked!

    This book read like a research paper and was very dry. Unless you are really into gangsters, don't bother buying it.

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  • Posted July 28, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    T.J. English does not disappoint!

    At this point I have read every book written by Mr. English. He does not disappoint with Havana Nocturne. He does a wonderful job of documenting the state of Cuban politics up to and including the revolution. He does a wonderful job of showing how the rise of the mafia coincided and coexisted with the decline and rise of Cuban leaders. Havana Nocturne does a wonderful job of showing how the mob won and lost Cuba and how some associated with the mafia bet heavily on Cuba and lost it all when Batista was deposed. A wonderful book that you will not want to put down!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2012

    Extremely interesting

    If you are a fan of Cuban music, as I am, you'll find this book very interesting. Very detailed.

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  • Posted September 8, 2011

    A great guided tour of a singular time and place

    I really loved the parallel narratives of Fidel Castro and the mob figures who exploited Cuba with Batista's connivance; it is beautifully paced. The author brings to life the exciting and corrupt synthesis of culture, society, politics and greed in both Cuba and the United States that created this unique bubble of history.

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  • Posted February 9, 2010

    Havana Nocturne

    "HAVANA NOCTURNE" BY T.J. ENGLISH: THE BOOK REVEALS A GREAT DEAL OF CUBAN HISTORY AND CAUSES ONE TO WONDER A LOT OF WHAT "IF'S".
    THE REVOLUTION WAS SUCCESSFUL, BUT WHAT IF THE BATISTA REGIME HAD PREVAILED?? THE MAFIA WERE VERY SERIOUS BUSINESS MINDED INDIVIDUALS AND THEY HAD SERIOUS GOALS ON THEIR MINDS. CUBA WAS THEIR POTENTIAL UNLIMITEDED MECCA. HISTORY IS PRESENTED BY A GREAT AUTHOR, WHO DID HIS RESEARCH TO CAPTURE THE PAST BEFORE IT BECAME TOO ANCIENT. THIS REVEALED HOW ONE MAN, WITH A DIFFERENT IDEA AND CONCEPT ABOUT HIS BELOVED COUNTRY DRAMATICALLY CHANGED THE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE UNITED STATES TO PRESENT. CASTRO MAY NOT HAVE BEEN AS BAD OF A PERSON AS SOME PEOPLE GREW UP BELIEVING HE WAS, OR AS THE HISTORY BOOKS REPORT WITH OUT THE REPRESENTATION OF WHAT ORGANIZED CRIME HAD ACCOMPLISHED ON CUBAN SOIL.

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  • Posted January 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    HAVANA NOCTURNE

    THIS WAS AN EXCELLENT BOOK. I WOULD RECOMMEND IT TO ANYONE. IT GAVE THE HISTORY OF THE INNER WORKINGS OF THE MOB AND THE THEN GOVERNMENT OF CUBA.

    HAD IT BEEN DONE PROPERLY..AND THE "WEALTH" FROM THE DEALINGS OF THE MOB AND GOVERNMENT BEEN SPREAD AROUND TO THE CUBAN PEOPLE.... IT MAY HAVE WORKED!

    I FOUND IT KIND OF SIMILIAR TO ATLANTIC CITY, NJ...WHERE THE CASINOS WERE GOING TO PROVIDE JOBS TO THE PEOPLE OF ATLANTIC CITY; BUT INSTEAD ONLY THE PRIVILEGED GOT THE JOBS, AND THE AVERAGE PERSON STILL REMAINED IN THE SAME CONDITIONS OF POVERTY.

    IT'S THE SAME EVERYWHERE; THE FAT CATS REAP THE REWARDS, GOVERNMENTS ARE CROOKED; AND THE POOR EVERYDAY PERSON SUFFERS.

    I WILL READ A FOLLOW UP BOOK ON CUBA TO SEE HOW IT WAS WHEN FIDEL CASTRO TOOK OVER.

    THIS BOOK HAVANA NOCTURNE, SPARKED AN INTEREST TO LEARN MORE ABOUT CUBA AND THE CUBAN PEOPLE.

    A FRIEND OF MINE (CUBAN) INSPIRED ME ALSO.
    PRIOR TO THIS BOOK; I KNEW VERY LITTLE ABOUT CUBA

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  • Posted August 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting History

    Intereting history of the people and events that led to the Cuban Revolution. Reads like a novel but it is factual.

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    Posted January 2, 2012

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    Posted October 1, 2010

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    Posted October 16, 2010

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    Posted October 9, 2011

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    Posted January 21, 2010

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    Posted January 4, 2010

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