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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.
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) DMCA
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) DMCA
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) DMCA
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.
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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