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)
It's really too bad. This could have been a GREAT book if the author had just stuck to being a neutral observer instead of a Castro lover. The history of the mob and their involvement with Cuba is very interesting. However, there is a constant irritation throughout the book, caused by the author's obvious bias in favor of Castro. A simple reading of the facts in his book (filtering out his biased comments and loaded adjectives) will tell you that Batista was an authoritarian and Castro was a totalitarian. Both were bad for the people but Castro was a magnitude worse. However, this apologist for Castro consistently gets it totally the opposite. He also compares gangsters to American industrialists - he can't figure out the difference between legal business competition and murdering your competitors. He thinks that mobsters gaining favors from the government is "capitalism". When he sticks to just the facts, it's a fascinating story. But he was so intent on interjecting his left wing interpretation into every area of the book that it really made it difficult to make it all the way through. And I'm sorry for that because he could have written a classic on Cuba. He had the facts and skill to do so but chose to write a historical propaganda piece instead.
I will say the book is quite interesting, however it’s also annoying. Just understand going in that the US is evil and all white people are evil and just out to exploit Cuba and its locals. Also know that Castro is awesome and that he loves freedom. If you can stand that PC nonsense and you can make it past the hour long descriptions about 14-inch members and other sex acts you’ll find an interesting story you’ve probably never heard. How accurate is the information? I have my doubts as there seems to be a lot of conjecture, but then again the mob isn’t exactly big on documenting everything. As for the sex stuff it’s only annoying in that it just goes on and on. I don’t have a real problem with it, if it was brief and used to set a mood that would be fine but seeing as he says the mob didn’t have much to do with the sex stuff why do we need so much of it. I have google if I want porn, an audio description of what would go in stage performers coffee during sex shows doesn’t really do much for me.
Nice historical review of an interesting period. Good mafia stories and interesting to hear about Cuba's history.
Story that sounds like a perfect screenplay, but was all true. Pre-communist Cuba had something for everyone: gambling entertainment,and live sex shows. Made Las Vegas look like a church potluck.
Whenever I read a 'history' that has pages and pages of 'a popular legend has it that' or some variation on simply repeating stories that have no more validity than horoscopes, well, I wonder what I was thinking when I decided to make the purchase. In this case, I was interested in Cuba and how certain members of the mob became part of its pre-Castro government.
This book is about that - but is rife with lurid stories about prostitutes and murders. For example, this guy wants you to believe that Frank Sinatra had to go all the way to Cuba to find a woman to go to bed with him - really?
I gave it a two because I did get through 80% of it - so it must have been a half decent listen
Say something about yourself!
I really enjoyed the story of the mob and Castro. I was born and raised in Miami and remember my parents visiting Havana in the mid to late 50s. It was quite the place at one time and maybe one day will be a great vacation spot in the future for Americans again. A good alternative to Las Vegas maybe.
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