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Library JournalStarred Review.
In this engaging memoir, the sister of two of the most consequential men in Latin America, Fidel and Raúl Castro, not only speaks out about her estranged brothers but emerges as a fascinating character in her own right. The fourth of six Castro Ruz siblings, Juanita fought for and against the Cuban Revolution, turning against it when Fidel started flirting with communism. In the late 1950s, she raised money for Fidel, spent a year in the Brazilian embassy in Havana as a political refugee of the Batista regime, and even entered the United States illegally. In 1964, she fled to Mexico, publicly denounced her brother's regime, and became an active member of the Miami exile community, where she initially got a chilly reception. She even helped fund an armed attempt to overthrow Castro as late as the 1970s. Fidel is depicted as a womanizer, a troublemaker, and a bully obsessed with power, but Juanita also marvels at his idealism and intellectual force. Raúl, on the other hand, is the sweet, understanding family man who, paradoxically, embraced communism much earlier than Fidel. The villains of the story are Ernesto "Che" Guevara (depicted as a ruthless tyrant) and anybody who has badmouthed Juanita's parents, among them, exile luminaries Carlos Franqui, Norberto Fuentes, and Guillermo Cabrera Infante. One might find fault in the implausibly long and detailed dialogs. However, Mexican journalist Collins, who interviews Juanita, deserves credit for having patched together this thoroughly fascinating narrative. Highly recommended.—Carlos Rodríguez Martorell, East Elmhurst, NY
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