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Fidel Castro: A Biography / Edition 1

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Overview

Fidel Castro is one of the most interesting and controversial political leaders of our time -- he has become a myth and an icon. He was the first Cuban Caudillo -- the man who freed his country from dependence on the USA and who led his people to rediscover its national identity and pride. Castro has outlived generations of American presidents and Soviet leaders. He has survived countless assassination attempts by the CIA, the Mafia, and Cubans living in exile. He has become one of the greatest politicians of the twentieth century. Castro's biography, and the history of his country, exemplify the tensions between East and West, North and South, rich and poor. As Castro's life draws to a close, the question as to what will become of Cuba is more important than ever. Will Castro open Cuba to economic reform and democratization, or stick to his old slogan "socialism or death"? In this remarkable, up-to-date reconstruction of Castro's life, Volker Skierka addresses these questions and provides an account of the economic, social, and political history of Cuba since Castro's childhood. He draws on a number of little-known sources, including material from the East German communist archives on Cuba, which were until recently inaccessible. This is an exciting, painstakingly researched, and authoritative account of the life of one of the most extraordinary political figures of our time.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A comprehensive and highly readable biography written in a remarkably even-handed tone."
The Guardian

"Volker Skierka has written the book that those wanting to understand the present-day politics of Cuba and its ruler have been awaiting for a long time. He has done so with a freshness, simplicity and elegance that makes it a pleasure to read ... accessible and fascinating to the casual reader and the specialist alike."
BBC History Magazine

"An exceptional, evenhanded portrait of an undeniably strong leader's strengths and weaknesses."
Midwest Book Review

"A fascinatingly good read and a treasure trove of information."
Morning Star

"Volker Skierka's study of Castro stands out for its admirable clarity and accessibility. Synthesizing a wealth of literature, and casting a cool eye on the official pieties of both Havana and Washington, Skierka has drawn a critical but far from unsympathetic portrait of this extraordinary figure of the Cold War world whose personal tenacity ensured that Cuban Communism survived with him into the new millennium."
James Dunkerley, Queen Mary University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780745630069
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 4/28/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 488
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Volker Skierka is a journalist and author based in Germany.

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Table of Contents

List of plates.

A Note of Thanks.

Acknowledgements.

Preface to the English Edition.

1. The Heroic Myth.

2. The Young Fidel.

Among Jesuits.

Among gangsters.

3. The Young Revolutionary.

Storm and stress: Moncada.

“Che”, the Argentinean.

Stormy crossing on the Granma.

A guerillero in the Sierra Maestra.

321 against 10,000.

4. The Young Victor.

Communists and “barbudos”.

1,500 revolutionary laws.

5. Old Enemies, New Friends.

The great powers at the gates.

The CIA, the Mafia and the Bay of Pigs.

Fidelismo.

“Mongoose” and “Anadyr”.

Thirteen days on the brink of a third world war.

Three gamblers.

6. The Long March with Che.

Moscow, Beijing, and Havana.

The new man.

The demise of Che.

7. Bad Times, Good Times.

War and peace with Moscow.

Ten million tons.

Into the Third World.

The revolution devours its children.

8. Alone Against All.

Exodus to Florida.

Rectificacion and perestroika.

The Soviet imperium collapses.

The brother’s power.

War economy in peacetime.

9. The Eternal Revolutionary.

Class Struggle on a dollar basis.

Cuba and the global policeman.

Castro, God and the Pope.

Freedom or “socialismo tropical”.

10. Don Quixote and History.

Notes.

Bibliography.

Index

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2004

    Useful, but naive, account of Castro's revolution

    This vigorous new biography of Fidel Castro by a German journalist is marred by its liberal perspective. It reflects the EU¿s social democratic approach to Cuba and socialism, basically hostile, under a veneer of friendship. It is not as good as Jon Lee Anderson¿s biography of Che, and it unfortunately overlooks key sources like Morley, Petras, Huberman and Sweezy. Nonetheless, it vividly portrays the great revolutionary from his days as a guerrilla leader in the Sierra Maestra to the present. Skierka tells the story of President Kennedy¿s policies towards Cuba, starting with his Bay of Pigs attack in April 1961 (with no UN authorisation ¿ like Bush¿s recent attack on Iraq). That November, Kennedy approved the invasion plan Operation Mongoose. In February 1962, he ordered a total blockade of Cuba, and demanded a military strike. Then he reversed course and secretly contacted Castro, which infuriated the CIA, the Mafia and the Cuban exiles, who arranged Kennedy¿s assassination, and blamed Castro. Contrary to Skierka¿s view, Cuba has every right to defend itself against its external enemies and their internal allies. Those who take foreign money to propagandise and organise betray their country. The Sandinistas in Nicaragua won liberals¿ plaudits by allowing the counter-revolution to organise, but the Sandinistas lost power as a result, and Nicaragua¿s workers and peasants lost too. Castro said, referring to Gorbachev, ¿there are two types of communists: good and bad ones, as defined by imperialism. Those who do not submit to imperialism they call inflexible.¿ Castro told Gabriel Garcia Marquez that Perestroika ¿is leading the Socialist world back to capitalism.¿ Garcia Marquez suggested, ¿perhaps it¿s the beginning of true socialism, of socialism with a human face.¿ Castro replied, ¿No. Believe me, Gabo, it¿s going to be a disaster.¿ The USA and the EU pose a growing threat to Cuba, playing hard cop/soft cop, the USA with economic sanctions and ceaseless, recently intensified, terrorist attacks organised from Florida by the CIA and the Mafia, the EU with diplomatic and cultural boycotts. A country needs working class resoluteness and thought to survive as independent in the face of this onslaught.

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