Against All Hope: Prison Memoirs; Fidel: A Biography of Fidel Castro; Fidel: A Critical Portrait; Cuba: Continuity and Change

In This Review

Against All Hope: Prison Memoirs

By Armando Valladares
Knopf, 1986
380 pp. $18.95

Fidel: A Biography of Fidel Castro

By Peter G. Bourne
Dodd, Mead, 1986
368 pp. $18.95

Fidel: A Critical Portrait

By Tad Szulc
William Morrow, 1986
504 pp. $19.95

Cuba: Continuity and Change

Edited by Jaime Suchlicki and others
North-South Center for the Institute of Interamerican Studies, University o, 1986
190 pp.

Four new volumes heavy with insights augment the seemingly endless literature on post-Batista Cuba. The Valladares volume, a horrifying recital of 11 years lost in the hunger, filth and putrefaction of a Castro prison, is the most personal and vivid, a landmark in the annals of tyranny. The Bourne account, written with the "general support" of the Cuban government and with access to its archives, is fair minded and balanced, although its emphasis is on the earlier and more favorable Castro years. The author, a psychiatrist with extensive experience in public and foreign affairs, stresses the effects of illegitimacy and the father's macho qualities on Castro's childhood and his (still continuing) sense of the world as conflict. He makes clear the intense personalism of the regime, and believes that a different U.S. policy in 1960 would have made little difference since "the die was cast historically and psychologically before Fidel came to power." The book by Tad Szulc, written with the collaboration of Castro, has verve and a sense of immediacy, although it is heavily tilted toward the years before 1962. An interesting conclusion: it may take a generation for Cuba to get back to the cultural freedom of the time of José Martí. "Cultural policies have dealt a lethal blow to creativity in his country; even in 1986 the island was a wasteland of ideas. ..." The University of Miami study contributes a short but effective group of essays on contemporary Cuban circumstances.

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