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Cuba for the Misinformed: Facts from the Forbidden Island - A Book Review

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Author's note: this book review is not part of my regular weekly Oped News column, Reflections in Sinoland: Reporting from the Belly of the New Century Beast . But I am so impressed with this read that I want to share it with you. Stay tuned for Baba Beijing's continuing geopolitical drama this weekend... Jeff J. Brown in China.

Book Review

Cuba for the Misinformed: Facts from the Forbidden Island

by Mick Winter

(2013, Westsong Publishing, http://www.cubamisinformed.com/ )

I got to know Fidel Castro back in 1997. You know the guy, that larger than life, Third World comic book hero, with the Michelangelo, Zeusian beard, the burnished, acacian savannah face, with his Groucho Marx cheroot, as big as a Coney Island footlong, protruding from his charismatic and wise-beyond-his-experiences smile. That is how alive and real Mr. Castro was to me, when I read Tad Szulc's personal and gripping biography, Fidel: A Critical Portrai t (1986, Avon Books). In 1997, I was leaving China after seven years of cultural intoxication as intense as Nate King Cole's five pack a day nicotine addiction, a subject amply covered in my book, 44 Days Backpacking in China: The Middle Kingdom in the 21st Century, with the United States, Europe and the Fate of the World in Its Looking Glass (2013, 44 Days Publishing, www.44days.net). Szulc's Fidel book and moving to France made for a nice cultural correlation of sorts. Thanks to Fidel, I began and continue to follow quite regularly the life and times of Fidel and his geopolitical id, The Republic of Cuba.


No, not that cigar, the other one.
(image by Wikipedia)


 

Over the ensuing years, I was always pining for a bookend to match Szulc's wonderful, intimate and revealing book, and 16 years later, stumbled upon the perfect complement, the omega to my Cuba/Castro alpha.


Mick Winter's informative, Cuban smorgasbord.
(image by Mick Winter)

 

Cuba for the Misinformed: Facts from the Forbidden Island's perfect platform is the ebook. Its format and content are ideal for word searching anything and everything you might imagine or wonder about this defiant country and its proud, idealistic people. Cuba is a huge, interactive scrapbook, something I can fancy seeing on Tom Cruise's transparent, illuminated, Minority Report TV screens, whipping, moving and arranging all the information with a flick of the wrist, in the shadows of a darkened, magical library. Much like an encyclopedia, Cuba is broken down by chapters according to subject or topic: History, Revolution, Relations with the US, etc.


Cuba for the Misinformed's format is made for scenes right out of Steven Spielberg's movie, The Minority Report
(image by Wikipedia)


Cuba is replete with photos and links to YouTube, Wikipedia and other resource-rich websites. So, you can be reading a chapter and then immediately watch dozens of germane videos, listen to archival recordings about that topic, or segue to more detailed articles and reports.


Fidel Castro, left and Che Guevara, center, during the La Coubre explosion march, 1960, very likely a CIA masterminded sabotage that caused 300 Cuban casualties.
(image by Wikipedia)

If Cuba is Castro's id, then the United States is his dark and sinister, Old Testament seraph. I challenge any sentient American or friend of America to read Cuba and still be proud of what Uncle Sam has perpetrated on the Caribbean's largest island. It is appalling, embarrassing and humiliating. My head was spinning in disgust by the time I turned the last page. The puerile, pompous and psychotic behavior of the United States will live in ignominy through the annals of human history during the decades to come. How petty and pedantic is the world's now reigning paper tiger? Uncle Sam fined Ry Cooder $25,000 because he traveled illegally to and spent money in Cuba, thus violating an American law unique to this tropical island, the Trading with Enemy Act. Doing what, you might ask? He went to this forbidden, tropical island to produce the internationally admired and best-selling music CD, Buena Vista Social Club. Like some comic book deus ex machina, then President Bill Clinton accorded Mr. Cooder an "act of clemency", so he could return legally to Cuba for a further year of recording. But this multi-instrumental six-time Grammy award winning musical institution of all things American roots music did not have his hefty fine forborn. I guess Billy Jeff needed the money to pay the Department of Justice's Gucci shoed legal boys. After all, they needed to sew up his pardon of Marc Rich tighter than a late summer deer tick. It was accorded on his last day in office.

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http://www.44days.net

Jeff is the author of 44 Days Backpacking in China- The Middle Kingdom in the 21st Century, with the United States, Europe and the Fate of the World in Its Looking Glass (2013), 44 Days Publishing. His work has been featured on websites such as Paul (more...)
 
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Can't wait to read it!... by Jeff J. Brown on Tuesday, Dec 3, 2013 at 8:58:02 PM
heh.. at one time they wanted to become a state di... by Judy Swindler on Tuesday, Dec 3, 2013 at 9:04:27 PM
Never. The criminals who escaped to Florida did, s... by Guglielmo Tell on Wednesday, Dec 4, 2013 at 8:15:39 PM
Fidel got rid of USA puppet dictator Batista and c... by jean labrek on Wednesday, Dec 4, 2013 at 7:12:06 PM
I think we should leave the question of lifting th... by Natalie Oberman on Thursday, Dec 5, 2013 at 12:37:05 AM
What the hell would you know? Have you been to Cub... by Guglielmo Tell on Thursday, Dec 5, 2013 at 10:38:41 AM
P.S. I checked your "hell hole" link and I left a ... by Guglielmo Tell on Thursday, Dec 5, 2013 at 11:52:09 AM
You seem intent on defending Castro -- good for yo... by Natalie Oberman on Thursday, Dec 5, 2013 at 11:17:27 PM
Thanks to all for your comments. My cup of tea is ... by Jeff J. Brown on Thursday, Dec 5, 2013 at 6:59:57 AM
Thanks at least for confessing you're not an exper... by Guglielmo Tell on Thursday, Dec 5, 2013 at 11:57:28 AM
As the author of Cuba for the Misinformed, I'd lik... by Mick Winter on Thursday, Dec 5, 2013 at 4:18:49 PM
And that's a wonderful posture. Not like the ... by Guglielmo Tell on Thursday, Dec 5, 2013 at 6:27:36 PM
I have never been to Cuba and that surely helps, b... by Jeff J. Brown on Thursday, Dec 5, 2013 at 4:31:58 PM
Or... read my reply to Mick Winter, the author of ... by Guglielmo Tell on Thursday, Dec 5, 2013 at 6:33:33 PM
You've never been to Cuba Jeff?  Why not? &nb... by Natalie Oberman on Thursday, Dec 5, 2013 at 11:37:18 PM
Well Natalie, he was not imprisoned. I've been in ... by Jeff J. Brown on Friday, Dec 6, 2013 at 1:16:45 AM
So I guess that means you'll soon be traveling to ... by Natalie Oberman on Friday, Dec 6, 2013 at 2:03:06 AM
Once again, "freedom and democracy" is just anothe... by Guglielmo Tell on Friday, Dec 6, 2013 at 7:58:15 AM
Very passionate and well said Guglielmo! Hopefully... by Jeff J. Brown on Friday, Dec 6, 2013 at 8:44:35 AM
Thanks for being an open-minded American. This is ... by Guglielmo Tell on Friday, Dec 6, 2013 at 12:17:11 PM
Mr. Tell I read through the comments under Totten'... by Natalie Oberman on Friday, Dec 6, 2013 at 6:54:10 PM
Well, this is a more civilized writing, so I ´l... by Guglielmo Tell on Saturday, Dec 7, 2013 at 2:18:03 AM
Guglielmo- I bought "The Power Elite" and look fo... by Jeff J. Brown on Saturday, Dec 7, 2013 at 3:07:20 AM
Congrats and be careful - it's fair to assume that... by Guglielmo Tell on Saturday, Dec 7, 2013 at 12:02:28 PM
"Aliens jumping over the border" are treated lik... by Guglielmo Tell on Saturday, Dec 7, 2013 at 2:23:01 AM
Yes, I lack the experience of living in a "free"... by Guglielmo Tell on Saturday, Dec 7, 2013 at 2:27:13 AM
Returning to MJT, yes it's true, the blog is his... by Guglielmo Tell on Saturday, Dec 7, 2013 at 2:30:19 AM
And this is precisely the problem with today's A... by Guglielmo Tell on Saturday, Dec 7, 2013 at 2:33:46 AM
All this debauchery in American Financial and Fo... by Guglielmo Tell on Saturday, Dec 7, 2013 at 2:42:23 AM
"Yes, I lack the experience of living in a "free" ... by Natalie Oberman on Monday, Dec 9, 2013 at 12:52:36 AM
One by one. "You have no basis of compa... by Guglielmo Tell on Monday, Dec 9, 2013 at 3:56:01 PM
You're not familiar at all with the reality of t... by Guglielmo Tell on Monday, Dec 9, 2013 at 4:02:47 PM
"Don't condemn   America as a whole for som... by Guglielmo Tell on Monday, Dec 9, 2013 at 4:07:15 PM
States and economies are built in conspiracies, ... by Guglielmo Tell on Monday, Dec 9, 2013 at 4:11:15 PM
Individualism is gone (except the one of corpora... by Guglielmo Tell on Monday, Dec 9, 2013 at 4:18:53 PM
American Founding Fathers did not see themselves... by Guglielmo Tell on Monday, Dec 9, 2013 at 4:22:55 PM
To whomever who flagged my comments, thank You for... by Guglielmo Tell on Monday, Dec 9, 2013 at 9:47:42 PM
"Individualism is gone"  -- Do you really bel... by Natalie Oberman on Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 12:58:07 AM
Read comments from other Americans in this colum... by Guglielmo Tell on Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 7:51:08 PM
A few details: Fidel Castro had offered doctors ... by Guglielmo Tell on Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 7:58:31 PM
As for escapes on boats to Cuba: some Cubans fro... by Guglielmo Tell on Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 8:01:34 PM
After first brawls with the U.S. Govt. started, ... by Guglielmo Tell on Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 8:04:53 PM
So the worst part of today's reality, like I wro... by Guglielmo Tell on Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 8:10:20 PM
As for fun, it's true, it's difficult to travel ... by Guglielmo Tell on Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 8:14:26 PM
In Cuba when someone says 'Always in combat' (Comb... by Deena Stryker on Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 at 6:27:29 PM
"In Cuba when someone says 'Always in combat' (Com... by Guglielmo Tell on Thursday, Dec 12, 2013 at 12:00:44 PM
I must stress again .... It's highly relevant that... by Natalie Oberman on Saturday, Dec 14, 2013 at 12:31:05 PM
We keep going around in circles. You are not goi... by Guglielmo Tell on Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 5:06:24 PM
This why the Soviet collapse meant a genocide fo... by Guglielmo Tell on Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 5:12:17 PM
The roots of poverty in Third World lie precisely... by Guglielmo Tell on Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 5:20:24 PM
"Socialist" (or "communist") bureaucracy will tr... by Guglielmo Tell on Sunday, Dec 15, 2013 at 5:26:16 PM