CONTESTING CASTRO

THE UNITED STATES AND THE TRIUMPH OF THE CUBAN REVOLUTION

A thorough and well-documented analysis by Paterson (History/U of Connecticut) of how Castro came to power in Cuba and why the United States failed to stop him. Drawing on U.S., Canadian, and British records, as well as considerable research in private American archives, Paterson launches an unqualified assault on the notion that Fidel Castro was a Communist prior to his accession to power: ``That Castro later- -after victory and repeated crises with the United States—declared himself a Communist cannot erase the pre-1959 record of minimal contact'' between the Cuban Communist Party and Castro's movement. Indeed he argues that Castro's movement ``actually distrusted the Communists because of their one-time sordid alliance with Fulgencio Batista.'' Nor, he notes, was the State Department neglectful of the possibility that Castro might be hiding Communist sympathies. On the contrary, they repeatedly looked into the matter, and the failure of the United States to act more decisively against Castro was in part a reflection of the failure to find any connection between him and the Communist Party or the Soviet Union. A variety of American officials found in him, rather, ``gargantuan ambitions, authoritarian tendencies, and not much in the way of an ideology of his own.'' Paterson believes that the United States showed ``a deadly combination'' of ``ignorance and arrogance'' in dealing with the situation and that its failure to show an evenhanded approach to the civil war in Cuba further stimulated Castro's already lively anti-Americanism. Paterson says that there have been three views of Castro: that he was a ``power hungry manipulator,'' a ``supremely pragmatic politician,'' or, most charitably, that he was a leader in training, feeling his way to a world view. Favoring no one theory, Paterson does show how skillfully Castro maneuvered to achieve his objectives. Paterson does not approach this matter without his own biases (against ``right-wing ideologues'' and officials ``fixated on the Communist issue''), nor did he have access to the Cuban or the Soviet archives; but this is a careful, well-constructed, well- argued, and essential source.

Pub Date: April 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-19-508630-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1994

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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