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Yankee Come Home: On the Road from San Juan Hill to Guantanamo
     

Yankee Come Home: On the Road from San Juan Hill to Guantanamo

5.0 2
by William Craig, Jennifer Spanier
 

The Spanish-American War ended over a century ago, but its effects are with us still. In Yankee Come Home, William Craig travels through Cuba, the birthplace of American imperialism, to find out why our republican ideals died in the glory of San Juan Hill, and to reveal Guantánamo, the corner of Cuba we've never left. I n doing so, he recounts more

Overview

The Spanish-American War ended over a century ago, but its effects are with us still. In Yankee Come Home, William Craig travels through Cuba, the birthplace of American imperialism, to find out why our republican ideals died in the glory of San Juan Hill, and to reveal Guantánamo, the corner of Cuba we've never left. I n doing so, he recounts more than a century of the fascinating, but none-too-flattering relationship between the United States and Cuba. Through present-day adventures-spirit-possession rituals, black market odysseys and roots-music epiphanies-Craig explores what that relationship has wrought in the lives of Cubans and A mericans alike.

Craig was drawn to the Cuban-American story by memories of his mysterious great-grandfather Thomas O'Brien, a self-proclaimed hero of the "splendid little war" whose legacy of glorious, painful lies left his own children wondering who he'd really been. Like the reality of "Papa" O'Brien's identity, the story of the United States' 1898 intervention in Cuba reflects more hubris than heroism, more avarice than sacrifice. But in the end, despite America's unseemly history there, Craig's journey through Cuba and its history takes him to a greater understanding of both countries. His observation that "at Guantánamo, freedom is in trouble on both sides of the wire" applies to the past and present of the United States as well as Cuba.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Freelance journalist and professor (River Valley Community College, N.H.) Craig combines an investigator’s eye with academic research to present a disturbing account of the U.S.’s relationship with Cuba. He traveled there “because there’s a Cuban bay that’s been a U.S. naval base since 1898..... because my stepson is standing guard behind a machine gun... in Iraq... because patriotism has begun to feel like grief.” Craig details Cuba’s history from its time as a Spanish colony through his trip in 2005 that is the genesis of his account. He maintains objectivity through that factual presentation, even though his personal politics are never far from the surface. Craig admires the Cubans, and his observations of the differences and nuances between our languages and cultures informs his presentation. There is, however, no empathy for the Communist regime or for U.S. policy, “where we ditched our republican ideals for the charms of empire,” with what is known to us as the Spanish-American War. In the end, Craig’s is a persuasive condemnation of U.S. foreign policy. Agent: Wendy Strothman. (Aug.)
From the Publisher

“For its style, humanity and vision, Yankee Come Home is beyond praise. The writing is sharper, the descriptions more evocative, than anything I have read in years.” —Jack Beatty, author of The Lost History of 1914 and Age of Betrayal

“Cuba is mostly unfamiliar territory for US travelers, which is ironic given how the United States was the dominating presence there for so much of its history. With Yankee Come Home, William Craig does his US readers a great favor, entertaining us with his adventures across Cuba but reminding us along the way of how US interventions left the island scarred.” —Tom Gjelten, author of Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba

“Craig braids the history of Cuban-American relations with quick, fluent grace.” —Nicholson Baker, author of Human Smoke

“Intrepid Bill Craig's wild journeys through Cuba tell a story no one has told before: The legacy of America's disastrous 1898 intervention. With solid-gold reporting and a quirky flair for drama, humor, and pathos, Craig reveals not only a hidden Cuba, but the hidden heart of America, too. The book is bound to be a classic.” —Sy Montgomery, author of The Good Good Pig and Spell of the Tiger

author of The Lost History of 1914 and Age of Betr Jack Beatty

For its style, humanity and vision, Yankee Come Home is beyond praise. The writing is sharper, the descriptions more evocative, than anything I have read in years.
Library Journal
Freelance journalist Craig (liberal arts, River Valley Community Coll.) has a story to tell. After years of hearing that his great-grandfather fought with Teddy Roosevelt on San Juan Hill, he sought to connect with the past and retrace his ancestor's steps; this book is the result. His adventures in Cuba ultimately involve a dubious Nigerian missionary, a New England feminist choir, and a family secret. Though his travels don't work out as planned, Craig forges on. As they say on the island: "Estamos en Cuba." Readers experience Afro-Cuban religious ceremonies, brush-ups with the ever-present secret police, plenty of rum, and several hours on terrible Cuban transportation. VERDICT This memoir could have disintegrated into a slapstick account of a Nigerian scam artist, inflexible Cuban bureaucrats, and the woes of a crumbling Cuban infrastructure. Instead, Craig has crafted a nuanced, coherent account of the Spanish-American War (remember the Maine?) interspersed with recent Cuban history and the current reality; the book is also a family memoir and quirky travelog. Recommended for anyone interested in Cuba or the Spanish-American War.—Lee Arnold, Historical Soc. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Kirkus Reviews
With a half-century of U.S. antagonism to Cuba's revolution as the back story, a freelancer visits the island nation to report on both its history and current situation. Craig (Liberal Arts/River Valley Community Coll.) accompanied a touring chorus to gain access to the beleaguered communist outpost. Abandoned by the group's guide, he made his own way, curious to see where his great-grandfather may have fought. Starting with Santiago de Cuba, where Theodore Roosevelt famously charged up San Juan Hill, Craig recalls the bellicose Roosevelt, cautious McKinley and the American takeover of the Cuban rebellion against Spanish rule. The author's lively history follows locale, not chronology, and he analyzes sugar politics, empire building and the blood-spattered history of slaves, Indians and Spaniards in the New World. The author doesn't cover the story of the sinking of the USS Maine, the ostensible casus belli for the Spanish-American War, until more than halfway through the text. We also learn about Cuban culture, including music, spirits, the real Ché Guevara, pickpockets, drinking habits and much more. Craig's sprightly account ends back east with a surreal encounter with the local authorities in the town of Guantánamo as he tries to gain a view of the ominous American base. The Spanish-American War was the quintessential journalists' adventure. Craig beats his professional predecessors with his skilled and accessible personal journal and blunt history.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802710932
Publisher:
Walker & Company
Publication date:
08/07/2012
Pages:
448
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.50(d)

Meet the Author

William Craig, a journalist and professor at New Hampshire's River Valley Community College, has written for the Boston Globe, the Hartford Courant, the Spectator, and the Boston Review. His fiction has appeared in StoryQuarterly and the New England Review.

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Yankee Come Home: On the Road from San Juan Hill to Guantanamo 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book recounts in the most engaging way the little known history between the United States and Cuba. Woven into the narrative are Craig's experiences in present day Cuba - particularly relevant now that Cuba is becoming a travel destination for many Americans. Our knowledge of Cuba has been defined by stereotypes - Craig has done us a service  ``                                                                                                                                             C Megan
RichCraig More than 1 year ago
I loved the book! Especially interesting to me as a history nut was the context provided by Bill's recounting of life in Cuba under Spain and the cultural/religious influences that still impact people's daily lives. Reading about America's involvement with Cuba was a real eye opener. I think most people only know about the Bay of Pigs and how we almost went to war with Russia over Cuba in the 60s. I felt like I was there in every anecdote he shared with the reader! Buy this book for an enjoyable read.