The Sugar King of Havana: The Rise and Fall of Julio Lobo, Cuba's Last Tycoon

The Sugar King of Havana: The Rise and Fall of Julio Lobo, Cuba's Last Tycoon

by John Paul Rathbone


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"Fascinating...A richly detailed portrait." -Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

Known in his day as the King of Sugar, Julio Lobo was the wealthiest man in prerevolutionary Cuba. He had a life fit for Hollywood: he barely survived both a gangland shooting and a firing squad, and courted movie stars such as Joan Fontaine and Bette Davis. Only when he declined Che Guevara's personal offer to become Minister of Sugar in the Communist regime did Lobo's decades-long reign in Cuba come to a dramatic end. Drawing on stories from the author's own family history and other tales of the island's lost haute bourgeoisie, The Sugar King of Havana is a rare portrait of Cuba's glittering past—and a hopeful window into its future.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143119333
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/26/2011
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 597,926
Product dimensions: 5.55(w) x 8.39(h) x 0.71(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

John Paul Rathbone was born in New York and raised in England. Currently the Financial Times' Latin American editor, and a former editor of the FT’s prestigious “Lex” column, he is a graduate of Oxford and Columbia Universities, and has worked as an economist at the World Bank, and as a journalist. His articles have appeared in many publications including The Wall Street Journal, Britain’s Sunday Telegraph, Colombia’s El Espectador and Esquire magazine, where he was business columnist from 2002-2003. He lives in London.

What People are Saying About This

Mirta Ojito

At long last: a book that does not glorify the Cuba of the 1950's or romanticize the terrible and ineffective government that tried to erase it from memory. (Mirta Ojito, author, Finding Manana: A Memoir of a Cuban Exodus)

Carlos Alberto Montaner

This magnificently written book is much more than an account of the life of a singular personage: it is a fascinating portrait of an era by now unknown even to the Cubans themselves. Whoever wishes to know what the island was like before the revolution must read this work. (Carlos Alberto Montaner, author of Journey to the Heart of Cuba)

Jon Lee Anderson

The Sugar King of Havana is a remarkable book. On the one hand, John Paul Rathbone has written the extraordinary life story of Cuba's late sugar baron Julio Lobo. Set against the epic sweep of Cuba's revolutionary history, this is also a deeply personal family memoir that clears a pathway to a part of Cuba's wounded soul. Beautifully written; a stunning achievement. (Jon Lee Anderson, author of Che and The Fall of Baghdad)

Cristina Garcia

This is a riveting story that goes well beyond traditional biography. In telling the tale of Cuban sugar magnate, Julio Lobo—sophisticated, complex, obsessive, a collector of Napoleon memorabilia and Hollywood starlets, as well as a ruthless businessman—Mr. Rathbone illuminates the extraordinary history of Cuba itself, and the many worlds that evaporated with the onset of Castro's revolution. (Cristina Garcia, author of Dreaming in Cuban and The Lady Matador's Hotel)

From the Publisher

"An exceptionally rich portrait not only of an empire and its progenitor but Cuba itself, and the economic legacy of Castro's revolution, the loss of capital, and the end of Cuba's 'great age of sugar.'" —-Publishers Weekly Starred Review

Francisco Goldman

This beautifully written, deeply felt biography of Cuba's most important sugar capitalist looks to the past—into national and family history—almost as if to meditate on Cuba's future, and accomplishes this with wonderful detail, nuance and balance. A fascinating and unexpectedly original story of Cuba. (Francisco Goldman, novelist and author of The Art of Political Murder)

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