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Fred Ward, who spent four months in Cuba for the National Geographic, has written a book which compares favorably with other recent travelers' accounts. Less anecdotal than Joe Nicholson, Jr.'s similarly titled Inside Cuba and David Caute's Cuba Si, it is a solid text enhanced by over 200 photographs. It is also more up to date, with a discussion of the new constitution and the Angolan intervention. Like other observers, Ward finds Castro to be immensely popular, and gives his government high marks for achievements in education, public health, and housing. He goes so far as to offer the subjectively based claim that more than half the population have had their lives improved by the revolution. On the other hand, he notes that civil liberties are non-existent, and that the lavish Soviet aid which sustains the economy has not been sufficient to overcome severe shortages of basic consumer goods. The government's economic planning has repeatedly failed to achieve its goals, and for nearly two decades the population has been exhorted to sacrifice for a glorious future which does not seem to get nearer as time goes by. Ward believes the effort to modernize, maintain social benefits for a fast-growing population, and engage in adventures overseas, ensures the need for future sacrifices which may eventually weaken the regime. DÉtente with the United States might be one way to ease the economic crunch. This course has been set back by Cuba's actions in Africa, but a chapter of useful tips for tourists is included, just in case.

Pub Date: March 31st, 1978
Publisher: Crown