The Great Game in Cuba: How the CIA Sabotaged Its Own Plot to Unseat Fidel Castro

Overview

The Great Game in Cuba uses the backdrop of the Cuban Revolution to examine the CIA’s inner workings during the fifties and sixties. Detailing the agency’s lies and deceits, Mellen paints a vivid behind-the-scenes picture of the CIA in Cuba after the Castro revolution: what it wanted and the lengths it was willing to go to paralyze the opposition to Fidel Castro.

The game begins with Robert J. Kleberg, Jr., proprietor of the legendary King Ranch, one of the largest ranches in ...

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The Great Game in Cuba: How the CIA Sabotaged Its Own Plot to Unseat Fidel Castro

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Overview

The Great Game in Cuba uses the backdrop of the Cuban Revolution to examine the CIA’s inner workings during the fifties and sixties. Detailing the agency’s lies and deceits, Mellen paints a vivid behind-the-scenes picture of the CIA in Cuba after the Castro revolution: what it wanted and the lengths it was willing to go to paralyze the opposition to Fidel Castro.

The game begins with Robert J. Kleberg, Jr., proprietor of the legendary King Ranch, one of the largest ranches in the world. Kleberg's messianic ambitions bring him to Cuba, where he establishes a satellite ranch managed by his right-hand man, the James Bond–type character Michael J. P. Malone, who secretly reported to both the FBI and to at least five CIA handlers.

From there the plot thickens as an array of Cubans share never-before-revealed information regarding the agency's activities in Cuba and its attempts to unseat Castro and install a CIA-friendly figurehead in his place. The mysterious disappearance of Camilo Cienfuegos, a major figure in Castro's government, is told here for the first time. The agency's shady dealings with a major U.S. publication are uncovered.

A testament to the sheer volume of previously classified and untold information, The Great Game in Cuba is a story the world needs to hear.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this plodding tale of political intrigue and greed, Temple University professor Mellen (A Farewell to Justice) recounts a story of the ways that the wealthy and powerful influence political decisions that protect their self-interest. In 1951, Robert J. Kleberg Jr. rode herd over the largest private ranch in the United States, Texas’s King Ranch. By the mid-1950s, Kleberg was a “figure of planetary power—without portfolio—forging alliances with foreign entrepreneurs” from Australia to Morocco. Although his empire spread around the world, the satellite ranch in Cuba that he established in the 1950s, Becerra, was closest to his heart, and his goal there was to “bring the best beef to the world’s hungry at fair prices.” Kleberg counted Lyndon Johnson, Allen Dulles, and J. Edgar Hoover among his friends, and he had easy access to the ears of powerful politicians. Kleberg hired Alberto Fernández, a powerful Cuban rancher, to oversee the ranch, and maintained it until 1959, when Castro expropriated the property upon his takeover of the government. Kleberg demanded that the CIA oust Castro and help him regain his property, but the CIA remained uninterested in liberating Cuba. Mellen’s monotonous retelling of this little-known story fails to pack any punch. (Mar.)
Gustavo de los Reyes
“Bob Kleberg’s description by Edna Ferber [in her novel, Giant] makes for a magnificent novel, but Joan Mellen has perfectly interpreted history.”
Samuel R. Delany
“Joan Mellen tells a brilliantly researched, meticulously supported, and compulsively readable tale that everyone concerned with how America operates should know.”
Burton Hersh
“What Joan offers here is an anatomy lesson in our secret history. Operation after operation is laid open mercilessly, the complicated motives of leaders on all sides become heartbreakingly clear. This book is a must-read for students of American clandestine warfare.”
Peter Janney
“A ‘must read’ for the serious minded, who will find it both riveting and fascinating in yet another chapter of the untold history of the Cold War.”
Dick Russell
“Until now, the role of Texas' King Ranch in anti-Castro activities during the turbulent 1960s has remained largely unknown. Based on never-before-seen documents and interviews with key witnesses, Joan Mellen opens an important new window on the CIA's secret history.”
Library Journal
An endless cast of characters, a plot that winds from Texas to Cuba to Washington, DC, and a near indecipherable conclusion highlight Mellen's (English & creative writing, Temple Univ.; A Farewell to Justice) conspiracy tale involving the CIA and Fidel Castro. This is really the story of the legendary cattleman Robert Kleberg Jr. and his King Ranch in Texas, but Mellen attempts to tie in the CIA's efforts to oust Castro after 1959. Her history of Texas, the King Ranch, and Kleberg's rise to cattle baron and influential businessman are fascinating. Along the way the reader encounters Lyndon B. Johnson, Allen Dulles, David Atlee Phillips, and other recognizable figures in America and Cuba. Kleberg established a satellite of King Ranch in Cuba, thus bringing him in proximity to the leadership of the revolution. While there is ample proof of the CIA's involvement in efforts to overthrow Castro, Mellen fails to connect the dots. Overall, her text is at best confusing and at worst in need of serious editing. VERDICT Few if any readers will find this book satisfactory. Nor can it be taken as serious scholarship. Not recommended.—Boyd Childress, formerly, Auburn Univ. Libs., AL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781620874677
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
  • Publication date: 3/1/2013
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 975,729
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Joan Mellen is the bestselling author of twenty books, including A Farewell to Justice, her biographical study of Jim Garrison’s New Orleans investigation of the Kennedy assassination. She has written for a variety of publications, including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Baltimore Sun. Mellen is a professor of English and creative writing at Temple University in Philadelphia.
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