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Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba...and Then Lost It to the Revolution | [T. J. English]

Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba...and Then Lost It to the Revolution

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.
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Publisher's Summary

In Havana Nocturne, T. J. English offers a riveting, multifaceted true tale of organized crime, political corruption, roaring nightlife, revolution, and international conflict that interweaves the dual stories of the mob in Havana and the event that would overshadow it: the Cuban Revolution.

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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

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Performance
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  •  
    Craig Tacoma, WA, United States 08-09-10
    Craig Tacoma, WA, United States 08-09-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Those of us who never saw this era, Mesmerizing!"

    I have always heard of the Cuban society as a mix of legend, cliche and myth and it was fascinating to me to get a glimpse of what the life and lifestyle was like.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diana Kamuela, HI, United States 01-29-09
    Diana Kamuela, HI, United States 01-29-09 Member Since 2013

    I find a reason to laugh everyday!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fascinating American history"

    The book read like an engrossing novel. My husband and I read it together. Our dinner conversations became enjoyable mini-book club discussions. I highly recommend this book to those who are fascinated with the seamier side of Ameican history, and, of course, the American mob. Great book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    WriterGirl Washington, D.C. 01-06-09
    WriterGirl Washington, D.C. 01-06-09 Member Since 2005

    WriterGirl

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not For The Narrowminded"

    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.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Sun City, AZ, United States 12-29-08
    Michael Sun City, AZ, United States 12-29-08 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent book on the Mob"

    It was a dream that almost came true for organized crime - a country of there own that could of opened the door to the rest of the world.
    Like most people, my view of the near take over of Cuba by the Mob, was what I saw in the Godfather Part II. It's a case of the real events being ever better than that great movie. This book is an easy and powerful listen, that is loaded with all kinds of interesting tidbits that keeps you wanting to find more - and the author delivers. This is a very good listen, enjoy!

    9 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laurie Calgary, Alberta, Canada 01-07-09
    Laurie Calgary, Alberta, Canada 01-07-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "too long and pompous"

    The narrator's voice is irritating and he sounds like he is pontificating.
    The english grammar and use of language is poor; original work needs to be better written and more importantly, better edited. A third could have been cut which would have greatly improved the story. As a Canadian, I don't mind the left wing point of view but the author throws statements out without sufficient detail to support his arguments or further his story. This can be very irritating.




    8 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States 02-16-15
    Cynthia Monrovia, California, United States 02-16-15 Member Since 2012

    Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Razzle-Dazzle"

    I love the word 'nocturne'. Merriam-Webster's online dictionary defines it as "a work of art dealing with evening or night; especially a dreamy pensive composition for the piano." T. J. English uses the title "Havana Nocturne" to refer to the Havana that the American mob dreamed up, created and nourished, only to have it crushed by revolution.

    If Havana from the end of World War II until 1959, was a work of art, Meyer Lansky was a mobster who didn't play games of chance, and the artist who gambled on building a Mecca the Pearl of the Antilles. Lansky was the money man who shrewdly pegged Fulgencio Batista, an up and coming Cuban military officer, as a potential ally in developing Havana. Batista was an elitist snob, easily corrupted - and became President and then military dictator of Cuba.

    A more prescient man might have put his money on Fidel Castro and his brother, Raul. "Havana Nocturne" profiles Fidel's radicalization, imprisonment and release, and revolutionary rise. Fidel's ascent caused Batista's fall, and sent the mob scuttling out of Havana and back to Florida, leaving vast luxury state of the art hotels to decay in an era of embargo. Cuban sex workers, card sharps, and pit bosses stayed behind, too. Lansky literally lost his mistress in 1959 - as in, the revolution happened, she moved from the apartment he had her ensconced in, and he never found her again.

    If Havana was a work of art, it was a tawdry, glitzy, sometimes crass nouveau riche creation of an accountant. Lansky may have had unorthodox methods to solve problems (he had muscle that straight businessmen only dream about) but he was essentially a CFO. He lacked an appreciation for a subtle, nuanced approach to tourism or business. Now that economic relationships are being normalized, it will be interesting to see what happens with former mob holdings that Fidel nationalized.

    T. J. English's analysis of the rise and fall of mob gaming as it paralleled the rise of Cuban communism was an elegant study in contrasts."Havana Nocturne" sounds like a well researched work. Audible narrations don't generally have footnotes, but sources were referenced in the text.

    The title of this review comes from a con game played in Havana: unsuspecting would-be gamblers were seduced into fraudulent bets by seemingly innocent but admiring and enthusiastic locals. Lansky thought he'd successfully run that show out of Cuba.

    The narration was fine, but there's a pretty vexing editing problem. Chapters 6 and 7 repeat as Audible Chapters 8 and 9. It took me a bit to figure out what happened - I thought I'd somehow rewound. So, mentally knock off almost 2 hours from the book.

    [If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    cort Kensington, CA, United States 03-21-09
    cort Kensington, CA, United States 03-21-09
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    "An excellent history lesson"

    Offers a fascinating look into an interesting and important period, and provides a real challenge to those who think Castro is evil.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Inna east brunswick, NJ, USA 09-19-08
    Inna east brunswick, NJ, USA 09-19-08 Member Since 2004
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    "Havane Nocturne"

    “Havane Nocturne” is a very entertaining account of Havana mob and all intrigues that were going on in Cuba during the 50-es. It reads like Godfather. However, as far as political analysis of Castro revolution is concern, it is either very na?ve or misleading on purpose. There is no mention of the fact that revolution in Cuba was a communist revolution from the beginning. The author stubbornly avoids the reality that from the beginning Castro movement was supported by KGB both with money and arms and that Soviet advisors trained and advised Castro and his adherents. It is really indigenous that the author did not mention even once a huge role that the Soviet Union played in Cuban revolution. It is sad that the only word of wisdom in this book was spoken by old Meyer Lansky who realized right away that Castro regime would be a communist regime which would bring a lot of suffering, death, hunger, and economic disaster to the country. He said it based on his own experience.

    25 of 42 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David 05-25-15
    David 05-25-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Havana daydream"

    Go on a trip to the golden days, swinging nightclubs, and luxurious casinos of Havana. The swirl of sex and music echo from the Tropicana, Riviera, and the Capri into the streets. The good times & money are flowing. Learn the true story of how the mob was behind the entire Cuban boom. Hear interesting stories of how Frank Sinatra, JFK, Pan Am airline, and Hilton all had connections to Lansky and his "Havana mob." - Interesting story that captivates the listener w/descriptions of a dazzling era, while still educating about the events leading to the revolution.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emily Whitaker 05-11-15 Member Since 2013
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    "One history of Cuba"

    Full of interesting characters but a little repetitive and, while it may be accurate, a really jaded story of corruption in Cuba.

    I would recommend for those of us who want to visit.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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