Cuba Libre!: Che, Fidel, and the Improbable Revolution That Changed World History

Cuba Libre!: Che, Fidel, and the Improbable Revolution That Changed World History

by Tony Perrottet


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The surprising story of Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, and the scrappy band of rebel men and women who followed them.

Most people are familiar with the basics of the Cuban Revolution of 1956–1959: it was led by two of the twentieth century’s most charismatic figures, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara; it successfully overthrew the island nation’s US–backed dictator; and it quickly went awry under Fidel’s rule.
But less is remembered about the amateur nature of the movement or the lives of its players. In this wildly entertaining and meticulously researched account, historian and journalist Tony Perrottet unravels the human drama behind history’s most improbable revolution: a scruffy handful of self-taught revolutionaries—many of them kids just out of college, literature majors, and art students, and including a number of extraordinary women—who defeated 40,000 professional soldiers to overthrow the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. Cuba Libre!’s deep dive into the revolution reveals fascinating details: How did Fidel’s highly organized lover Celia Sánchez whip the male guerrillas into shape? Who were the two dozen American volunteers who joined the Cuban rebels? How do you make land mines from condensed milk cans—or, for that matter, cook chorizo à la guerrilla (sausage guerrilla-style)?
Cuba Libre! is an absorbing look back at a liberation movement that captured the world's imagination with its spectacular drama, foolhardy bravery, tragedy, and, sometimes, high comedy—and that set the stage for Cold War tensions that pushed the world to the brink of nuclear war.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780735218161
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/22/2019
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 775,034
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Tony Perrottet is the author of six books: Cuba Libre!, Off the Deep End, Pagan Holiday, The Naked Olympics, Napoleon's Privates, and The Sinner's Grand Tour. His travel stories have been translated into a dozen languages and widely anthologized, having been selected six times for the Best American Travel Writing series. He is a regular television guest on the History Channel and a contributing writer at Smithsonian Magazine; his work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal Magazine, Condé Nast Traveler, T+L, Outside, Surface, and the London Sunday Times. He lives in New York.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Fidelmania 1

Part 1 The Cuban "Madness"

Chapter 1 DIY Revolution 11

Chapter 2 The Curse of San Juan Hill 22

Chapter 3 Fulgencio Venus Fidel 31

Chapter 4 The Misfire Heard Around the World 42

Chapter 5 Island of Lost Souls 58

Chapter 6 Fellow Travelers 68

Chapter 7 Waiting for Fidel 79

Chapter 8 The Cruise of the Cranma 87

Chapter 9 "Now We've Won the War" 95

Part 2 The Amateur Guerrillas

Chapter 10 The Kindness of Strangers 105

Chapter 11 First Blood 113

Chapter 12 Back from the Dead 120

Chapter 13 Havana Vice 133

Chapter 14 "The Bitter Days" 139

Chapter 13 The Revolution Will Be Televised 147

Chapter 16 Baptisms of Fire 153

Chapter 17 Scenes from the "Free Zone" 163

Chapter 18 Revolution on $300 a Day 175

Chapter 19 Love in the Time of Diarrhea 184

Part 3 Revolutionary Road

Chapter 20 Fiestas in Wartime 195

Chapter 21 "The Fuck-up" 203

Chapter 22 Sierra Shangri-la 210

Chapter 23 Operation "End of Fidel" 219

Chapter 24 Raúl Goes Rogue 225

Chapter 25 The Comeback 236

Chapter 26 Women in Uniform 244

Chapter 27 Hurricane Season 254

Chapter 28 Have Gun, Will Travel: The Gringo Guerrillas 265

Chapter 29 The Lightning Campaign 278

Part 4 Honeymoon with Che

Chapter 30 Compañeros Versus Mafiosi 295

Chapter 31 In (Cuba) Like flynn 304

Chapter 32 The Caravan of Victory 313

Chapter 33 Days of Rum and Roses 324

Epilogue: Last Kids on the Bloc 339

A Note On Sources 353

Acknowledgments 360

Index 362

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