TRADING WITH THE ENEMY: A Yankee Travels through Castro's Cuba by Tom Miller

TRADING WITH THE ENEMY: A Yankee Travels through Castro's Cuba

Email this review


Six months in Cuba, described with humor, integrity, and insight by Miller (The Panama Hat Trail, 1986). Part of the pleasure here lies in the obvious enjoyment Miller takes in ""trading with the enemy."" (The title is drawn from the name of the US law that forbids contact between North American citizens and their southern neighbors; Miller, as a journalist, received a dispensation from the ban.) The author brings his own enthusiasms along on his journey, traveling for a while with a Cuban baseball team and studying the oboe with a member of the Orquesta SinfÖnica Nacional. Among Miller's many encounters with Cubans ranging from teachers to cigar-makers to farmers, one of the most delightful is with Nitza Villapol, a TV-personality known as ""the Cuban Julia Child."" At first somewhat truculent, Villapol soon mellows, and when she is reduced by food shortages to broadcasting recipes for such ersatz dishes as ""grapefruit rind 'steak,'"" she wins our sympathy. Miller also recounts his hilarious experiences visiting Havana's Jewish community. As a Jew, he is in great demand at the city's two synagogues: ""For one brief moment,"" he writes a friend, ""I was the hottest Jew in Havana."" Less happily diverting is his account of the activities of the recently organized Rapid Action Brigades, groups who go to suspected dissenters' homes to intimidate the residents into conformity. A gracefully written, sympathetic, and cleareyed look at the effects of the Cuban Revolution on ordinary compaÑneros.

Pub Date: Nov. 12th, 1992
ISBN: 0465005039
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Atheneum