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Fidel Castro: A Spoken Autobiography | [Fidel Castro, Ignacio Ramonet]

Fidel Castro: A Spoken Autobiography

For decades, people have tried to persuade the leader of the Cuban Revolution to tell his own life story. Ignacio Ramonet, the celebrated editor in chief of Le Monde diplomatique, has finally succeeded. For the first time, in a series of extensive and probing interviews, Fidel Castro describes his life from the 1950s to the present day.
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Publisher's Summary

For decades, people have tried to persuade the leader of the Cuban Revolution to tell his own life story. Ignacio Ramonet, the celebrated editor in chief of Le Monde diplomatique, has finally succeeded. For the first time, in a series of extensive and probing interviews, Fidel Castro describes his life from the 1950s to the present day. In frank and compelling detail, he discusses his parents and his childhood, his earliest influences, the beginnings of the revolution, his relationship with Che Guevara, the drama of the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Jimmy Carter years, Cuban migration to the United States, his dealings with successive American presidents from Dwight D. Eisenhower to George W. Bush, and his relationship with such controversial leaders as Saddam Hussein and Hugo Chavez.

Along the way, Ramonet challenges Castro to discuss his views on a number of controversial questions, from human rights and freedom of the press to the repression of homosexuality and the survival of the death penalty in Cuba. This book will stand as the definitive record of an extraordinary life lived in turbulent times.

©2006 Ignacio Ramonet; (P)2008 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"Enormously fascinating." (Booklist)
"A book of great importance to anyone interested in contemporary history and current events." (Kirkus)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (79 )
5 star
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4.3 (39 )
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4.0 (38 )
5 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Roy Beaumont, TX, United States 06-09-09
    Roy Beaumont, TX, United States 06-09-09 Member Since 2005
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    "In His Own Words"

    First, I am not pro-Castro. However, having spend some time in his Cuba I was interested in what this head of state had to say. I wanted to get a glimpse of Castro the man. "Fidel Castro: My Life" has gotten me about as close to the man as I could get.

    Ignacio Ramonet has spent over 100 hours interviewing Castro. Those thoughts are contained here. The book follows a Q&A format which is helpful. The prose is polished and well read by two readers. One reads the questions and the second plays the part of Castro.

    Whatever your attitude toward the Revolution, this book is very interesting. The stories, even from Castro's perspective, are engaging and informative.

    The book has a rather lengthy introduction. If you are pro-Revolution, you will be rewarded. If you are anti-Castro, you might not continue the book. I was a little put off, but greatly rewarded for continuing on and opening my mind to the narrative. The introduction is also helpful and should not be skipped because Ramonet details his interview and writing methodology.

    Listen to the book if you believe it is fiction. Listen if you believe in Castro.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alan Pinedale, CA, USA 12-02-08
    Alan Pinedale, CA, USA 12-02-08
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    "Narrators problem"

    It is most distracting that the narrators obviously have made no attempt to learn how to pronounce Spanish, particularly proper names. For the most part their pronunciations are merely grating, but in some cases their pronunciations render names of people and places actually unrecognizable. Although distracting, this detracts from neither the value of the content nor the clarity of the English in the narration.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lino Coral Gables , FL, USA 03-23-09
    Lino Coral Gables , FL, USA 03-23-09 Member Since 2006
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    "Lino"

    I am the son of Cuban-exile parents who were displaced in the early 60's by Fidel Castro. I have studied Cuban history, in particular the era in which Castro has been a major player. Castro clearly manipulates facts relative to my parents' and many other exiled people's experiences. Upon listening, it became very clear that Fidel has filtered the text to fit his needs. The author provides a disclaimer at the beginning of the book that Fidel reviewed and edited before publishing for more "clarity". I listened with this caveat, not expecting full truth, but, with interest in how Castro portrays himself and the communist regime he has led. In this context, I found the book very interesting, but, would suggest reading other books on Castro to cross-reference historical facts and events.

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ravenmaster China 01-13-13
    Ravenmaster China 01-13-13 Member Since 2005

    Raven

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    "Megalomaniac"
    Any additional comments?

    I enjoyed the first three quarters of this book, as it was historical in nature, and I was fascinated by Castro's dream and the action he took to see it through. But as the last quarter of the book progressed, Castro's self-aggrandizing built to a ridiculous crescendo, and he came off delusional and embittered. Ignacio Ramonet, who asked no tough questions in the first three fourths of the book, asked only a few in the last quarter, and when it was clear that Catro was providing delusional answers, there was zero follow up. This was not an interview. It was a carefully-contrived list if questions that Castro clearly reworked to put himself in the best light. Any self-criticism he offers is qualified. While Cuba has made some remarkable progress in realizing Catro's dream of socialism, Castro has held his people back from being a free people, which is indisputable, and for that, he has no remorse. He blames all of Cuba's woes on the US, and refuses to accept that he could have changed Cuba for the better if he had really cared about his people as much as his ideals and his legacy. He stopped being relevant decades ago, as did The Revolution, and there was no one willing to confront him in his own country. Narrators capable of correct pronunciation of Spanish should have been selected. Some of the pronunciation was really lousy and distracting. My advice is, stop listening after Part Three.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Noor Toledo, OH, United States 10-05-12
    Noor Toledo, OH, United States 10-05-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Thrilling Story Despite Your Personal Politics"
    What made the experience of listening to Fidel Castro the most enjoyable?

    This book is written as an interview conducted with Castro over several weeks in the mid-2000's. The narrators both have neutral American accents and makes for easy and enjoyable listening. From the failed attack on the Moncada Barracks to the Sierra Maestra to Cuban Missile Crisis to the fall of the Soviets the author (not Castro) gives a meticulous engineers' diagram of the situation in Cuba.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    The Greatest Story The Government Doesn't Want You To Know


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    April Jeddah, Saudi Arabia 03-29-12
    April Jeddah, Saudi Arabia 03-29-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Great story, not so great narration"
    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    The narrator for Castro's voice could not pronounce many of the Spanish words which was a bit annoying.


    Any additional comments?

    I really enjoyed it. Very informative.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Don ERIE, PA, United States 11-28-11
    Don ERIE, PA, United States 11-28-11

    quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi

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    "Fantastic!"

    Fidel Castro sets the record straight - removing the patent falsehoods perpetuated by the US government and the Cuban "exile" community in Miami.

    He tells the truth about events we in the US never hear about - US financed terrorist attacks, assassination attempts, biological warfare and, lets not forget, a cruel economic blockade that is odd - considering how the US kowtows to China(a country that has slaughtered MILLIONS). You'll have a very different view of the phony "war on terror" when you learn of what the US government has done to Cuba over the past five decades.

    Forget the lies of those with a vested interest in having a Cuba that is nothing more than a playground for the wealthy elite of the US.

    Compared to the books written by US politicians(which are generally never more that campaign publicity), this book is breathtakingly frank. If you want to know the quality of a politician, see how often they admit to their mistakes - or take the blame when something goes wrong. They rarely do, but Fidel Castro does.

    This book sets the record straight - which is something we direly need in an era of US Nazi-style propaganda.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ron Lecanto, FL, USA 06-12-09
    Ron Lecanto, FL, USA 06-12-09
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    "History, twisted to fit"

    The early part of the book was most interesting as it covered Fidel Castro's childhood and pre-revolution life, an area I knew little about. As the book progresses from that point it get clear that this world leader has a huge amount of bitterness that builds as his story is told. Many of the facts are distorted and some things are just plain wrong. The interviewer is hardly a journalist and often sounds as if Castro is handing him the questions. It is a shame that Ramonet wasn't more probing and critical in his questioning akin to the Frost/Nixon interviews.
    Still it is interesting to hear Castro's own version of history and his dealings with the "Empire" to the north (the USA).
    I listened to this book immediately after finishing "Havana Nocturne." A book that dealt with Batista and the mob in Cuba. The books overlap and compliment each other in the history of Cuba during the revolution of the late 1950's.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
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