Item description for Fidel My Early Years by Fidel Castro, Deborah Shnookal, Pedro Alvarez Tabio & Pedro Alvarez Tabio...
An exclusive collection of Fidel Castro's own remarkably frank writings about his formative years. This new, expanded edition, featuring a brilliant introductory essay by Gabriel Garca Mrquez, includes previously unpublished personal reflections by the Cuban president.
"We have no doubt that he will make a brilliant name for himself. Fidel has what it takes and will make something of himself."-From Fidel Castro's final school report, 1945.
"Fidel Castro's autobiography in the form of personal sketches offering a glimpse of him as a young boy and as a young rebel . . . Fascinating reading."-Midwest Book Review
Also available in Spanish as Fidel en la memorio del joven que es (ISBN 1-876175-16-8)
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.75" Width: 5.5" Height: 8.5" Weight: 0.64 lbs.
Release Date Sep 1, 2004
Publisher Ocean Press
ISBN 1920888098 ISBN13 9781920888091
Availability 2 units. Availability accurate as of Oct 22, 2016 11:49.
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More About Fidel Castro, Deborah Shnookal, Pedro Alvarez Tabio & Pedro Alvarez Tabio
Fidel Castro is First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba and President of the Republic of Cuba.
Reviews - What do customers think about Fidel My Early Years?
A Great View Into An Important Figure Apr 6, 2007
Fidel Castro remains one of the dominant political figures of all time, certainly the most controversial and impactful political leader Latin America produced in the 20th century. The Cuban Revolution was an important moment in the history of the Americas, one can easily see it's influence in later movements such as the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, Salvador Allende in Chile and in our own time Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Evo Morales in Bolivia. "Fidel: My Early Years" is a great collection of material where Castro himself discusses his youth from his childhood in Cuba to his student years up to the time right before the revolution. Political and history students must read this volume which gives a clear insight into the vast intellect and powerful speaking skills of Castro. Colombian Nobel-Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez opens the book with a wonderful essay where he describes his long-time friend and his eccentricities, sleepless working hours, voracious reading habits, passions, angers and hopes. Marquez with true eloquence captures a giant of revolutionary movements. Excerpts from major works such as "Fidel & Religion" are featured where Castro discusses his religious upbringing (mostly from his mother) and the poverty and suffering Cuba's campesinos and blacks suffered under U.S. imperialism. He also makes a point of supporting Haiti, which has also been ravaged by colonial abuse. There are fascinating moments such as Castro's discussions of his time in Colombia where he witnessed the political upheaval resulting from the assasination of the reformist Gaitan who Castro (and many others) suspect was assassinated in a plot hatched by Colombia's elites. The beauty of "Fidel My Early Years" is that we get a true human portrait of a man reduced to the level of slogans, cartoons and demonization by the American press, here we get his actual words and ideas. What we see is a man with an amazing capacity for recording facts, figures, thoughts, philosophies and a brilliant sense of calculation and observation and an appreciation for history. Fidel Castro has already left his imprint on Latin American and world history, but for many in the U.S. he remains a distant, threatening figure, here you get a chance at listening to the actual words because listening is a habit we really lack and very much need in the current world state.
A great text May 7, 2006
This book consists of one lengthy speech that El Commandante favored students with at his alma matter, the University of Havanna law school in 1995, and a few long interviews, including his famous 1985 interview with the Brazilian priest, Frei Betto. Gabriel Garcia Marquez has a very good introductory essay, with some personal reflection on his buddy Fidel.
If you are a good right thinking American, you probably consider Fidel Castro an evil dictator, even though most Americans the polls show, favor a lifting of the embargo. Well whether you consider him a monster, a somewhat brutal benign dictator (as I do) or as a holy saint (as Fidel hints he thinks himself at some points in this collection), this book is a fine piece of literature. Fidel is a first rate storyteller, he evokes the images of his life in a simple and clear style and is able to impart to the reader the rather inspiring gusto and confidence with which he went about life in his early years.
Cuba pre-1959 was a very wealthy country and put up some good numbers but most of the wealth was concentrated in the hands of an indiginous elite, significantly tied to American investors. Once the United States grabbed Cuba after 1898, much of the land was handed off cheaply to U.S. investors. Castro describes how his father was an extremely poor Spanish immigrant who arrived in Cuba in the late 1890's as a soldier in the Spanish army that was barbarically trying to repress the Cuban independence movement. His father, Angel, over the years managed by his own enterprize to eventually become a pretty successful landowner out in the sticks of Oriente Province. His mother, a native Cuban, also was extremely poor growing up. His father eventually came to employ a large number of workers in his sugar fields, including some Hatians. He grew up playing with the children of these workers and never was aware of any class distinctions between him and his mates, or so he says. The Haitians, Fidel says, he used socialise with in their mud and thatch dwellings. The workers lived an extremely hard and impoverished life, but these Hatians had the hardest lot of all.
In the 1933 revolution against the dictator Machado, Hatian migrant workers were expelled on the ground that they were taking jobs away from Cubans. Included in this expulsion was the Hatian Consul General at Santiago De Cuba, a mulatto who became Fidel's godfather. As a four, five or six year old Fidel spent some time during the Great Depression in Santiago, as a student in the home of an impoverished teacher and got his first taste of real poverty. The Great Depression years in Cuba made the same period in the U.S. look rather mild by comparison. Many people starved to death. When it set up its neocolonial rule over Cuba in 1902, the U.S. also set up a military contigent called the Rural Guards, which terrorized the peasants. Fidel reminisces how in the elections of 1940, when he was back home, he was assigned the task of visiting the homes of the illiterate workers around Angel's estate and others in the area, explaining to them how to vote for his step-brother as a parliamentary canidate for the Autentico party. The workers on estates ussually voted for whoever their boss told them to vote for. Fidel says he remembers the Rural Gurads terrorizing the peasant voters at the voting booth, making sure that the peasants understood that they had to vote in that election for Bautista and his associates.
He spent his school years in various private Catholic institutions and had a few notable bouts with the authorities after he recieved physical punishment. He remarks that at one point he felt compelled to ask at of curiousity why there were no students of color at these institutions. People of color, of course, in Cuba before 1959, suffered Jim Crow style discrimination. At Jesuit schools in Santiago and Havanna, he, with no false modesty, describes that the priests were deeply impressed with his extraordinary gifts in intellectual fields as well as in sports. Just about everyone of these Jesuits had been a supporter of Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War, but nonetheless, he says, he grew close to many of them and deeply admired their austere spirit, their willingness to sacrafice for their students even though they didn't recieve any salary.
His life took a dramatic turn when he entered the University of Havanna Law School in 1945 at the age of 19. In 1944, Ramon Grau San Martin, was elected President. Grau had been a leader in the short lived government of 1933 that tried to enact social democratic measures but was overthrown with U.S. backing by Bautista. Grau and his Autentico party had forgotten their revolutionary roots by this time and devoted the next eight years mainly to murdering their opponents and each other, and embezzling government money at a really astounding level. The Autenticos controlled the administration of the University of Havanna and used gang violence against their opposition. Fidel threw himself into this mess, gradualling setting himself up as the leading student opponent of the Autenticos. He describes one instance, when apparently his struggle with the Autentico gangsters had reached such a point that they were going to kill him if he kept opposing them, he went to the beach and cried. He resolved while he was thus wiping away the tears that he would go back to campus life and face whatever came his way. Actually I think that he probably used the connection of his father-in- law, the United Fruit company lawyer, Rafael Diaz Bilart, to fly to the United States, after there was a bounty on his head by some Autentico gangs for allegedly planning to kill one of their leaders. I'm not sure. Ann Louise Bardach's book "Cuba Confidential" is a really fine book that explores these matters about CAstro's life. Maybe this incident after the killing of the gang leader took place later, I can't remember. Certainly, the people who told such a story to Bardach had a motive to strech the truth.
In any case, Fidel aligned himself with the most progressive forces in Cuban society. He joined the Orthodox party under the leadership of Eddie Chibas, and became the leader of that party's left wing. The Orthodox party wanted to eliminate the extreme corruption that had been an endemic part of Cuban life since 1902 and create a government that respected civil liberties, but it was in favor of keeping the capitalist system. Castro explains that he was really worried about the party because it was being co-opted by big landowners and being dilluted of its principles.
Castro was a leader of the Havanna University organization in solidarity with opponents of the barbaric U.S. backed dictator of the Dominican Republic, Rafael Trujillo. He joined a boat expedition in 1947 that aimed to land in the DR and start a guerilla war but the boat was stopped by the Cuban military as it went out to sea and its occupants were arrested but Castro jumped out the boat and swam to safety before they could get their hands on him. This expedition had been originally funded by the most corrupt minister in the Grau government, Julian Aleman, but some of the latter's rivals in the military called off the expedition after a couple of Autentico gangs massacred each other.
Castro's description of his involvement in the mass uprising in Bogota, Colombia after the assasination of Jorge Gaitan in April 1948 is really extraordinary. He is a first rate story teller as I've said. What is probably most remarkable about this section is how Castro explains, with no false modesty, repeatedly that it was his own extraordary courage and selflessnes that got him through that difficult period, as he tried to organize the people. He led a detachment of revoltees and tried to encourage a mutinous police station, to go on the offensive. No doubt the murder of Gaitan played a role in convincing Castro as did the U.S. backed coup in Guatemala in 1954 for Che Cuevara, that one cannot affect social change for the poor without having the oligarchy or the CIA kill you. Castro had been in Bogota as the leader of a Pan Latin American conference which was supposed to serve as a forum for Latin American students to unite to oppose the British occupation of the Falklands, U.S. control of the Panamma Canal and Puerto Rico and other such banal nationalist issues.
The idea that there is anything admirable whatsoever in Fidel Castro is likey incomprehensible to the average American, who rarely hears any notion in the corporate media that U.S. policy and U.S. foreign investors have served as a deciding factor in keeping the masses of Latin America in extreme poverty and misery. Few Americans, except those in Florida in a mostly positive way, have ever heard of Luis Posada Carilles or Orlando Bosch.