The Exile: Cuba in the Heart of Miami

The Exile: Cuba in the Heart of Miami

by David Rieff
     
 
"The Exile" is a fascinating portrait of Miami's Cuban population, the most successful group of immigrants to settle in the United States since the Jews of the nineteenth century. David Rieff, whom the San Diego Tribune called our "modern Alexis de Tocqueville", has provided an engrossing look at a group exiled from its homeland, showing how

Overview

"The Exile" is a fascinating portrait of Miami's Cuban population, the most successful group of immigrants to settle in the United States since the Jews of the nineteenth century. David Rieff, whom the San Diego Tribune called our "modern Alexis de Tocqueville", has provided an engrossing look at a group exiled from its homeland, showing how America has affected these immigrants, and what it means to become an American in the late twentieth century.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this sensitive and engrossing discourse, Rieff ( Going to Miami ) describes the 33-year-long exile in Miami which many Cubans are beginning to recognize may actually be immigration. For these Cubans, Havana is still the center of the world, but their nostalgia is for the spiritual capital of la Cuba de ayer , that sophisticated, chic, intellectual, artistic and, most importantly, pre-Castro city they now mythologize and try to reconstitute in the streets of Miami. Though cleaving fiercely to their Cuban origins and constantly dreaming of return, many have become more American than they realize, and there is now a second generation whose native home is Miami, observes the author. Rieff accompanied one couple on a brief visit to Havana, and he describes their surprise on finding that they had become Americans after all. ``We Cubans have become a different people in America,'' says the wife, ``and what I learned during our trip to Cuba is that they have become different down there too . . . the truth is that we are never going back.'' While his subject is the Cubans in Miami, Rieff uses the differences between their migration and that of other immigrants--particularly the Jewish diaspora--to give striking insights into the common pain of all exiles. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Updating Thomas D. Boswell and James R. Curtis's The Cuban-American Experience ( LJ 6/1/84), journalist Rieff ( Los Angeles: Capital of the Third World , S. & S., 1991) assesses the present social processes in Cuban American Miami. Past immigrants had come to the United States to stay, but Rieff shows that the motto of Miami's Cubans was ``Next year in Havana.'' More economic than political refugees (Castro's ``New Man'' demanded sacrifice from the more successful), their success here depended on their doing what they did best--making money. As Rieff demonstrates, they also saw to it that we heard only their side, not about the excesses of Batista. Although most Cuban immigrants are or will become U.S. citizens, their sympathies lie elsewhere, and one is left to wonder if the balkanization of America by such groups is good. A thorough investigation for current events collections.-- Louise Leonard, Univ. of Florida Libs., Gainesville
John Mort
Rieff portrays several Cuban exiles to establish--in general--that the original exiles long for home passionately regardless of how prosperous they have become, and many of their sons and daughters have similar feelings. Unlike Haitian immigrants, Cubans didn't come to Miami thinking life would be better; they were Cuba's bourgeoisie, and felt "torn up from their roots." Nonetheless, many who had privileged childhoods in Cuba now prefer Miami, and the notion of a community of exiles is fading to one of a community of immigrants. The grandchildren of the original exiles are actually uncomfortable with their Cuban heritage, which becomes clear with Rieff's account of accompanying the Raul Rodriguez family on a visit to Havana. For the family's young son, the trip is pure misery, and he longs only to be "home." Rieff is a sure stylist, and meditates on the notion of exile as a condition of life and a state of mind throughout the twentieth century. But mostly his is a portrait of one particularly vibrant community of the U.S. on the eve, it would seem, of great change, because of the limited days remaining to the Castro regime.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780671776046
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
08/01/1993
Pages:
240

Meet the Author

David Rieff is the author of eight previous books, including Swimming in a Sea of Death, At the Point of a Gun: Democratic Dreams and Armed Intervention; A Bed for the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis; and Slaughterhouse: Bosnia and the Failure of the West. He lives in New York City.

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