Ninety Miles: Cuban Journeys in the Age of Castro

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Overview

A brilliant musician. A young woman in love. A determined free-thinker who risked everything for his cause. This compelling book tells the stories of the personal journeys and struggles of three Cubans and how their lives have been shaped by Fidel Castro's influence over nearly half a century. It begins in 1959 with the triumph of the Cuban revolution, a euphoric event that sets the stage for dramatic changes in the years to come. Their experiences come alive in a narrative filled with childhood pranks, secret plots, and wrenching family decisions.

Eloy Gutiérrez Menoyo was a rebel commander who fought on the side of Castro's forces during the revolution, then later turned against the government and spent twenty-two years in Cuban prisons. Once free and living in Miami, he began a controversial effort to seek changes in Cuba through dialogue with Castro. He later surprised his family and friends by deciding to move back to Cuba in an attempt to start a new opposition movement.

Paquito D'Rivera was just a boy when Castro and his rebels rolled into Havana. His career as a saxophonist and clarinetist prospered in the years that followed, but seeking greater personal freedom, he eventually defected. Separated from his family, he settled in New York City. It took him many painful years to be reunited with his son. While Paquito has achieved stardom in the jazz world, he also longs at times for the island he left behind.

Nancy Lledes was a child of the revolution, born in the early years of Castro's rule and taught to respect the socialist system. Her parents believed in those ideals, and while Nancy was growing up she never imagined leaving Cuba. But she fell in love with a man who opposed the system. And for him, she abandoned her homeland and left behind all that she knew.

Together, these three tell a remarkable story in a unique age filled with upheaval, sharp divisions, and yet, hope. Spanning nearly five decades of life in Cuba and in exile, this wide-ranging history is also an intimately personal narrative.

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Editorial Reviews

British Bulletin Of Publications
Through the lens of these personal lives the author paints an accessible picture of Cuba in the latter half of the twentieth century. 2007
No.114 April-October 2007 British Bulletin Of Publications
In Ninety Miles he takes an interesting approach to modern Cuban history by using the life stories of three Cubans of different generations to reflect upon what has happened there through the years of Castro's revolution.... Through the lens of these personal lives the author paints an accessible picture of Cuba in the latter half of the twentieth century.
British Bulletin of Publications on Latin America
In Ninety Miles he takes an interesting approach to modern Cuban history by using the life stories of three Cubans of different generations to reflect upon what has happened there through the years of Castro's revolution. . . . Through the lens of these personal lives the author paints an accessible picture of Cuba in the latter half of the twentieth century.
British Bulletin of Publications on Latin America the Caribbean Portugal and Spain
In Ninety Miles he takes an interesting approach to modern Cuban history by using the life stories of three Cubans of different generations to reflect upon what has happened there through the years of Castro's revolution. . . . Through the lens of these personal lives the author paints an accessible picture of Cuba in the latter half of the twentieth century.
No.114 April-October 2007 British Bulletin of Publications on Latin America the Caribbean Portugal and Spain
In Ninety Miles he takes an interesting approach to modern Cuban history by using the life stories of three Cubans of different generations to reflect upon what has happened there through the years of Castro's revolution.... Through the lens of these personal lives the author paints an accessible picture of Cuba in the latter half of the twentieth century.
Dale Maharidge
Ian James tells a compelling story about three people over the course of the half century since the revolution that shook both shores. Through their lives we glimpse an intimate portrait of this history in human terms. This book is a valuable piece of journalism.
Frank Rivera
Ninety Miles is a must for any reader interested in understanding the realities of contemporary Cuban life, both for those on the island and those who have left. By telling the personal stories of three Cubans—two of them well known internationally, and a third who offers a common perspective—James reveals a picture of life that is distinctive, balanced, and captivating.
Carlos Eire
A wonderful, eye-opening piece of history, and a compelling narrative all the way through. . . . Ian James has captured the angst of being Cuban masterfully, with abundant grace.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742540422
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/25/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 6.25 (w) x 9.18 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Ian Michael James has written extensively about Latin America as a foreign correspondent for the Associated Press. He is currently the AP's bureau chief in Venezuela and was formerly an international desk editor, Caribbean correspondent, and reporter based in Miami.

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Table of Contents

Preface     ix
Havana 1959     1
A Musical Boy, a Beach Idyll, a Rebel Plot     17
School, Army, Jail     35
Revolutionaries, "Modern Music," Havana Nights     43
Bloodshed, Letters Home, a Love Affair     49
Razors, Religion, Communist Youth     59
A Jazz Cruise, a Mountain Hike, a Prison Tale     69
Mariel     83
New York City, Campus Life, a Hunger Strike     91
Cuban Dominoes, the Long Wait, Freedom     101
Weariness, a Reunion, Speaking Out     113
Boat People     123
Guantanamo     135
Facing Castro     143
Exile     151
Return     163
Note on Sources     181
Bibliography     183
Notes     189
Index     197
About the Author     203

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