In This Review

Cuban Revelations: Behind the Scenes in Havana
Cuban Revelations: Behind the Scenes in Havana
By Marc Frank
University Press of Florida, 2013, 336 pp

Frank, the dean of resident foreign journalists in Havana, has reported from Cuba since the mid-1990s. In this book, he produces a remarkably rich, gritty account of daily life today in the twilight of Caribbean socialism. Working around a cloistered political system, Frank has cultivated uniquely extensive networks of sources, official and private, that serve him scoops on everything from sugar production to anticorruption trials. He is sympathetic to the revolution’s goals but remains cold-eyed in his assessments of the government’s actions. The principal contribution of Cuban Revelations is its detailed coverage of the country’s recent pro-market economic reforms, of President Raúl Castro’s breaking of 50-year-old ideological taboos, and of how ordinary Cubans have perceived these dramatic changes. Among other insights, Frank lists 15 reasons why the unrest sweeping the Arab world is unlikely to reach Cuba, including the fact that in Cuba, “You are allowed to drink, party, and have sex out of wedlock.” Drawing on his exclusive access to unpublished public opinion surveys produced by the government, Frank reasons that most Cubans are now in a “gray zone”: passive bystanders, restless for change. Castro, with his reforms, is working hard to win them back.