School Library JournalGr 7 Up-The history of Cuba cannot be separated from the story of its longtime leader. A brief overview of the island country's history is followed by background about Castro's family. The rest of the book traces the subject's life through his youth and university days, his time as a revolutionary, and his years in power through the present. Relationships with both the United States and the Soviet Union are explained in an unbiased but somewhat dry manner. Throughout, Castro is depicted as for Cuban independence, not as a Communist puppet of the Soviet regime. Well-chosen, captioned, black-and-white photographs and reproductions add a good deal to the presentation. Don Beyer's Castro! (Watts, 1993) is a more readable biography for the same grade level.-Marilyn Long Graham, Lee County Library System, Fort Myers, FL
Merri MonksBrown focuses on Fidel Castro, the man, within the broad scope of Cuba's economic and political history. Castro's triumphant entry into Havana is recounted in the opening chapter; the author then backtracks for a brief history of Columbus' claiming of the island and Cuba's subsequent colonization by Spain. Against a backdrop of hundreds of years of exploitation by wealthy Cuban landowners and American industrial and corporate interests, Castro's popularity and rise to power resemble those of other absolute rulers in other economically troubled countries. Castro, the illegitimate son of a peasant woman, is portrayed as highly intelligent and possessing a volatile temper. Indifferent to his wife and young son, his first love is politics. Brown includes relatively current information, including the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the cessation of Soviet foreign aid to Cuba, and Boris Yeltsin's rise to power. Illustrated with black-and-white photographs.
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