Bringing together long-buried historical information and English's own research in Havana - including interviews with the era's key survivors - Havana Nocturne takes listeners back to Cuba in the years when it was a veritable devil's playground for mob leaders Meyer Lansky and Charles "Lucky" Luciano. Thanks to strong ties with the island's brutal dictator, President Batista, the mob soon owned the biggest luxury hotels and casinos and launched an unprecedented tourist boom.
But their dreams collided with those of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and others who would lead the country's disenfranchised to overthrow their corrupt government and its foreign partners - an epic cultural battle that English captures in all its sexy, decadent, ugly glory.
©2008 T. J. English; (P)2008 Tantor
"English's engaging narrative reads with the gripping quality of fiction: the dark underworld of Havana comes to life....Highly recommended." (Library Journal)
"Crime writer English...unfolds a story whose main outline will be familiar to any fan of The Godfather: Part II, but whose twists and turns no screenplay could keep up with." (Kirkus Reviews)
I couldn't wait ti get back in the car to listen! T.J. English takes a lot of information and ties it in perfectly. I hope the movie is half as good!
Contrary to the bizarre assertions of one reviewer, who claimed this book suffered from some kind of pro-Castro bias, it actually makes one pine for the pre-revolutionary, hedonistic debauched party town that was havana in the 50's.
In fact, Castro is portrayed as a zealous, buffoonish ideologue.
As I read it, the most sympathetic character in the book was Meyer Lansky, who is portrayed as a wily entrepreneur, and mostly detached from the sleazy dealings of his mobster contemporaries.
Havana in the 50's was a hotbed of dance and musical innovation and the passages which describe the sorts of musical entertainment one could find at the great clubs of the era made me feel that the accompanying vices of gambling, prostitution, as well as the political corruption and oppression were worth it.
Aficionados of organized-crime history will find familiar names and settings here, but with an exotic twist. The backgrounding on Cuban culture and politics was particularly satisfying for me.I knocked off one star from my rating because this treatment didn't rise to the level of truly riveting non-fiction. But listeners just acquainting themselves with true-life characters of the mob should find it more engaging.
The narrator was all right, but his lousy pronunciation of Spanish terms irritated me enough to reduce my rating by another star. Couldn't they get a bilingual narrator for a book so steeped in Spanish language?
I knew something about Cuban history but was brilliantly surprised to discover the intimate relationships shared by Myer Lansky and the US gangsters of the 40's and 50's with the US back Cuban dictator, Fulgencio Batista. If you liked the Godfather 1 and 2 you will absolutely love this book. Excellent narration!
We are mostly familiar with the "evil" dictatorship of Fidel Castro but not so much the reasons that brought him to power. The man who ruled before Castro has been mostly forgotten. But this book tells of Batista's rise to power and the influence of organized crime in his regime. It traces the history of the mob bosses in the United States and their move to create a national government in Cuba that they could control. Through research and personal interviews the author weaves the tale and keeps it highly iteresting.
This is an excellent chronicle of the Mob in Havanna as I've never read before. If you're fascinated with mobsters and their connections to Hollywood and the political stage, this book tells the story like a Baldacci novel. I have a new understanding of Castro and am intrigued to find out more.
I don't know much about pre-Castro Havana or the Cuban Revolution, but I thought this was a good introduction. The description of the gangsters and their relationships to the Batista regime were very detailed. It is clear that the author interviewed several people who were eye witnesses, including Meyer Lansky's driver. They seem to feel some nostalgia for the era. I imagine the depiction of the revolution will not please everyone since it is rather sympathetic but I thought it was very interesting. The narration was well-done.
I love history because I like to understand people and their contributions in the context of their time. Historians write about people who take action, for good or for ill. You don't have to like Lansky, Luciano, Trafficante, Castro, Batista or any of the other characters. But, one should recognize they were all men of action and did what they needed to do to become what they were. It is important that you understand the lessons history presents through their existence. I enjoyed this listen and highly recommend it.
Former steelworker from Buffalo NY retired after 40 yrs. as a Registered Nurse. Viet Vet, did a lot of theater in HS... e-Clectic for sure
Fishing my ass uncle Danny you went to Havana for this. Aunt Millie never knew...
Nor did any of us guess how incredibly convoluted the mystery was. I never thought that a dollar could stretch so far as to be in the pocket of six mobsters and a president at the same time. Since I grew up on the east coast when this all was happening and the names are all familiar memories this tale of the corruption in Cuba is even more relevant now that we are trying to normalize the last 50 yrs of idiocy. More than adequate narration as well...
I would make it less about the facts and figures and more about the beauty of the island and the people, the night life, the glitz and glamour.
Something less historical. This makes two in a row about Latin countries that failed to bring the local feel I was after.
Stop reading it.
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