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The Autobiography of Fidel Castro [NOOK Book]

Overview

"A compelling fictional personage-by turns arrogant, funny, pompous, lewd, self-absorbed and self-deluding."—Michiko Kakutani, New York Times


An audacious “biography” of the ex-president of Cuba told in Castro’s own outrageous, bombastic voice. Prize-winning author and journalist Norberto Fuentes was once a revolutionary: a writer with privileged access to Fidel Castro’s inner circle during some the most challenging years of the revolution. But in the late 1990s, as the regime ...
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The Autobiography of Fidel Castro

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Overview

"A compelling fictional personage-by turns arrogant, funny, pompous, lewd, self-absorbed and self-deluding."—Michiko Kakutani, New York Times


An audacious “biography” of the ex-president of Cuba told in Castro’s own outrageous, bombastic voice. Prize-winning author and journalist Norberto Fuentes was once a revolutionary: a writer with privileged access to Fidel Castro’s inner circle during some the most challenging years of the revolution. But in the late 1990s, as the regime began sending its oldest comrades to the firing squad, he became A Man Who Knew Too Much. Escaping a death sentence and now living in exile, Fuentes has written a brilliant, satirical, and utterly captivating “autobiography” of the Cuban leader—in Fidel’s own arrogant and seductive language—discussing everything from Castro’s early sexual experiences in Birán to his true feelings about Che Guevara and his philosophy on murder, legacy, and state secrets. Critics have long admired Fuentes’s writing; one U.S. article called him “Norman Mailer’s Cuban pen pal.” Akin to Gertrude Stein’s The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, or Edmund Morris’s Dutch, this wickedly entertaining, true-to-life masterpiece is as imaginative and outsized as Castro himself.
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Editorial Reviews

Michiko Kakutani
When Mr. Fuentes stops trying to italicize his hero's villainy and instead focuses on the narrative of his story, we're able to stop trying to figure out just how historically accurate his Comandante might be, and enjoy his creation as a compelling fictional personage—by turns arrogant, funny, pompous, lewd, self-absorbed and self-deluding.
—The New York Times
Tom Miller
With this book, Fuentes has scooped heavyweight publishers and Castro himself, deftly mimicking the Cuban leader's voice, obsessions and outsize ego. His manias and philosophical passions are front and center. His matter-of-fact brutality and grandiose manipulations shine through. Fuentes has captured what seem to me Fidel's private thoughts in 572 pages…Fidel couldn't have written it better.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Fuentes, an old friend of Fidel Castro who escaped a death sentence in 1990s Cuba and now lives in exile in Florida, delivers a clever, ballsy and colorful faux autobiography of the Communist icon. “With this book,” Fuentes-as-Castro writes, “I am not trying to reject anything or defend myself, but to leave behind an interpretation from my own hands, or rather, from my own mouth, of the events in which I am the protagonist.” Castro comes across as megalomaniacal and charming, his hilarious bravado a perfect complement to a profoundly unreliable narrator. Castro reflects on everything from the murder of his first political rival and his campaign against Batista to the Bay of Pigs and the missile crisis to the almost present day. Though peppered with gossipy asides, the story remains strong, mostly linear and always captivating. Fuentes tells Castro's story without questioning himself, and is so convincing that readers may forget this is fiction. (Dec.)
Library Journal
Originally published in Spanish in two volumes, this work has been pared down in translation to a single volume, but it is still a hefty read. Fuentes (Hemingway in Cuba; Condenados de Condado), a friend of Castro's throughout the most tumultuous revolutionary years, knows his narrator well. In this larger-than-life fictionalized portrait, Castro reflects on everything from his first sexual experience and Che Guevara to the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Kennedy assassination. Rarely, however, does he engage in self-reflection. Like other Latin American authors, Fuentes here intertwines the literary with the political, providing, as did Augusto Roa Bastos with I, the Supreme and Miguel Angel Asturias with The President, a distinctive and fascinating perspective on historical events. VERDICT This convincing mock autobiography of the famously long-winded Castro will make an engaging selection for readers with an interest in Latin America and its political leaders. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 8/09.]—Gwen Vredevoogd, Marymount Univ., Arlington, VA
Booklist
What makes this account particularly appealing is Castro’s (or Fuentes’) version of critical events and his relations with and feelings concerning historical figures. ... Of course, this isn’t history, but it is enjoyable, interesting, and probably as accurate a portrait as we are likely to get.— Jay Freeman
Jay Freeman - Booklist
“What makes this account particularly appealing is Castro’s (or Fuentes’) version of critical events and his relations with and feelings concerning historical figures. ... Of course, this isn’t history, but it is enjoyable, interesting, and probably as accurate a portrait as we are likely to get.”
Russell Banks
“A brilliant, funny, ultimately deeply moving novel, an unforgettable portrait of Fidel and at the same time an historically important first-person account of the Cuban Revolution and its aftermath.”
Tom Miller - Washington Post
“Fuentes has scooped heavyweight publishers and Castro himself, deftly mimicking the Cuban leader's voice, obsessions and outsize ego.”
William Kennedy
“Norberto Fuentes has given us a new Fidel: colloquial, arrogant, dramatic, comic, and cosmically egocentric . . . an enormously readable and entertaining literary achievement of a high order.”
Ann Louise Bardarch - San Francisco Chronicle
“Deliciously wicked . . . entertaining, edifying and voluminous . . . a masterful act of ventriloquism.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393076738
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/6/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 592
  • Sales rank: 1,353,343
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Journalist, award-winning fiction author, and former member of the Cuban revolution, Norberto Fuentes has written ten books, including Hemingway in Cuba. His work has been praised by writers such as Italo Calvino, William Kennedy, and Gabriel García Márquez. He left Cuba in 1994 and now lives in exile in Florida.
Anna Kushner was born in Philadelphia and first traveled to Cuba in 1999. Beside her “commanding translation” (Words Without Borders) of The Halfway House (ND, 2009), her writing and translations have appeared in numerous other print and web publications.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 20, 2010

    Excellent rendering of Fidel's mind and motivations. Must read!

    Norberto Fuentes makes stellar use of his priviledged access to Fidel Castro to bring us an account of the leader's life and motivations that the leader himself would be amazed to read because of its insighfulness and historical accuracy. This book is obligatory reading for those interested in understanding the nature of the Cuban revolution and the force that dominated the island nation for half a century and projected its limited resources well beyond the surrounding sea.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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