It is where Fidel Castro raised money to overthrow Batista and where two generations of Castro's enemies have raised armies to overthrow him, so far without success. It is where the bitter opera of Cuban exile intersects with the cynicism of U.S. foreign policy. It is a city whose skyrocketing murder rate is fueled by the cocaine trade, racial discontent, and an undeclared war on the island 90 miles to the south. As Didion follows Miami's drift into a Third World capital, she also locates its position in the secret history of the Cold War, from the Bay of Pigs to the Reagan doctrine and from the Kennedy assassination to the Watergate break-in.
Miami is not just a portrait of a city, but a masterly study of immigration and exile, passion, hypocrisy, and political violence.
©1987 Joan Didion (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
"Didion's Miami is a kaleidoscope of impressions, and a litany of violence, intrigue, vengeance, political manipulation, and broken dreams." (Boston Globe)
"[F]inely tuned." (The New York Times)
"This remains a masterful polemic." (Library Journal)
But I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - J.D. Salinger ^(;,;)^
"The shadowy missions, the secret fundings, the conspiracies beneath conspiracies, the deniable support by parts of the U.S. government and active discouragement by other parts--all these things have fostered a tensely paranoid style in parts of our own political life, Didion suggests.
Miami is us, and the tangled tales we heard recently of private armies and retired generals fighting their own lucrative wars provide something of a retrospective support for a thesis developed long before the Iran-gate hearings."
- LA Times Review by Richard Eder
The brilliance of this book is Didion's ability to capture the swampyness of the politics of Miami and South Florida, or what Christopher Lehmann-Haupt described as Miami's "murky underwater darkness full of sharks and evil shadows," and use that as a lense into the US policies in Cuba (during the Kennedy years) and Central America (during the Reagan years). The swampy feel, however, was both a plus (atmosphere) and a negative (narrative-flow). This book reminds me of the feeling I got when reading Delillo's Libra or Mailer's Oswald's Tale
This book is a dark, wet narrative of paranoia, government conspiracies, and a nation and city that has lost control of its dark arts. It is still relevant and the paranoia is still rich. I was reading this book and the character of Jack Wheeler sounded interesting. I remember he had been a figure in Rick Atkinson's [book:The Long Gray Line. He advised President Reagan and Both President Bushes on Central America. So, I decided to look him up since, like Zelig, he also played an interesting part in Didion's book. 23 years after Didion's 'Miami' was published and 4 years before I read it, Jack Wheeler was killed while conducting a review of the legal authority to engage in nation-state offensive cyberwarfare. His body was seen by a landfill worker "falling onto a trash heap in the Cherry Island Landfill". Sounds like it could have happened in Miami.
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