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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.
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.
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.