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
"Enormously fascinating." (Booklist)
"A book of great importance to anyone interested in contemporary history and current events." (Kirkus)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Greatest Story The Government Doesn't Want You To Know
The narrator for Castro's voice could not pronounce many of the Spanish words which was a bit annoying.
I really enjoyed it. Very informative.
quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi
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.
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.
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