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Publishers WeeklyStarred Review.
Cuban leader Fidel Castro's phoenix-like return from a near death experience in 2006 is a fitting introduction to this exhaustively researched account of one of the world's last communist leaders. Castro's quixotic quest to outlive most of his comrades provides fresh fodder for the "Castro obit industry," and investigative reporter Bardach (Cuba Confidential) obliges with graphic accounts of Castro's numerous health issues. She also reveals many previously unknown family stories, from the illegitimate offspring who've fled Castro's repressive rule, to his relationship with his younger brother and successor Raúl (a "more mindful and empathetic" man). As titillating as these personal details are, Bardach doesn't skimp on the politics or the day-to-day obstacles of Cuban civilians living in grinding poverty. Bardach opens the window wide on the "diplomatic train wreck" that is U.S.-Cuban relations, including Miami's exile community, anti-Castro Beltway establishment members, and the history of U.S. attempts to remove Castro from power. Bardach also exposes hypocrisy in the American anti-terrorism campaign, which seem to give a pass to anyone actively plotting against Castro. Bardach's unmatched access to Castro and other major players makes this a thorough account of a long-lived world figure who, admired or reviled, is an undoubtedly fascinating subject.
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