Cuba Libre! Che, Fidel, and the Improbable Revolution That Changed World History

Blue Rider: Penguin. Jan. 2019. 384p. illus. maps. notes. index. ISBN 9780735218161. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780735218185. HIST
OrangeReviewStarPerrottet (Pagan Holiday) tackles Cuba's revolutionary era, from late 1956 through 1960. Starting with the Granma fiasco and the failed attack on the Moncada Barracks to the overthrows of the Batista regime, the author drops readers into the middle of a revolutionary movement unlike any other in history. He contends the leadership was naïve, inexperienced, and idealistic, yet, somehow this amateur band of revolutionaries succeeded. We follow Fidel and Raúl Castro and Che Guevara but also meet figures such as Camilo Cienfuegos, Celia Sánchez, and Haydée Santamaría. Indeed, the uprising may well have collapsed without the organizational abilities of Sanchez. Perrottet's access to written and oral records provides for a rare achievement in the corpus of Cuba's revolutionary literature, with the remarkable epilog recounting the postrevolutionary lives of the major players.
VERDICT An excellent new entry on the subject, with a memorable opening line and highly enjoyable chapters. If you read only one recent book on Cuba, have it be this delightful popular history.

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