An anthology of a substantial portion of Castro's writings before he took power. It bears out the editors' view of his development from student activist coordinating street fighting to the organizer of a mass movement who is forced to condemn putsch attempts. Refreshingly absent in the introduction is any textual analysis debating when Castro ""turned Communist""; instead, a political history of Cuba brilliantly explains the university's political milieu, which Fidel entered in 1945. Castro later claimed that his life was less in jeopardy from Batista's troops in the Sierra Maestra than it was from the armed political factions of both pro-government forces and other left-wing groups. As a member of the Orthodoxo Party, Fidel advocated street violence against the 1952 Batista takeover, expressing a classical anarchist ""excite the masses"" theory; but his most significant writing, the ""History Will Absolve Me"" speech to the court after the Moncada debacle, contains elements of a political program and recognition of the need for a self-conscious movement. Castro's departure from the Orthodoxo, his formation of a guerrilla band in Mexico, the intense disputes with other anti-Batista groups while he was in the Oriente Mountains -- particularly the urban versus rural uprising debates -- are dramatically conveyed in these writings which include manifestos, letters to friends, and responses to other radical parties. The editors divide the selections by stages in Castro's political growth: university years, organizing for Moncada, imprisonment, organizing in Cuba and Mexico, and the guerrilla war itself. Both the completeness of the anthology and the excellently conceived political history offered in the introduction yield a valuable contribution to Cuban and revolutionary documentaries.