C is for Cuba

Let’s warm up a little and do some armchair traveling in Cuba; the average temperature is about 73° in January – a nice change from the cold and snow we usually experience.

Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean, and is considered part of Latin America. Its native inhabitants were colonized by the Spanish in the 15th Century, though the U.S. helped to end that during the Spanish-American War of 1898. After a fragile republic led to unrest in the 1950s, Fidel Castro took power and ushered in an era of Communist rule, which is still in place in Cuba today.

Cuba has a vital, multi-ethnic society, and is often known for its style of music, its baseball players, and its famous cigars.

Learn more:

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BOOKS

The Distant Marvels – Chantel Acevedo

  • A professional storyteller imparts the incredible tale of her youth during the Third War of Independence to eight women who need hope to survive Hurricane Flora in 1963 Cuba.

Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba – And then Lost It to the Revolution – T.J. English

  • Draws on previously hidden historical sources and survivor interviews to profile mob-infiltrated Havana in the 1950s, in an account that traces the relationships between President Batista and such mafia leaders as Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano.

Last Sugar King of Havana: The Rise and Fall of Julio Lobo, Cuba’s Last Tycoon – John Paul Rathbone

  • Documents the career of an influential Cuban sugar magnate whose life mirrored the turbulent course of post-independence Cuba’s republic, discussing his celebrity affairs, brushes with death, and strained relationship with Che Guevara.

Mi Moto Fidel: Motorcycling Through Castro’s Cuba – Christopher P. Baker

  • The author recounts his three-month, seven-thousand-mile odyssey through Cuba, discussing Cuba’s troubled history and politics and offering profiles of the colorful people he encountered along the way.

Reef Libre: Cuba, the Last Best Reefs in the World – Robert Wintner

  • A closer look at the pristine coral reefs around Cuba, as well as life in the coastal cities and villages.

A Simple Habana Melody (From When the World Was Good) – Oscar Hijuelos

  • Returning to Havana after years in Europe where he was tormented by people who believed him to be Jewish, Cuban composer Israel Levis remembers his love for singer Rita Valladares, for whom he wrote a song that has become the most famous rumba in the world.

Tower of the Antilles: Short Stories – Achy Obejas

  • Obejas’s stories of contemporary Cuba explore how history and fate intrude on even the most ordinary of lives.

Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuba Boy – Carlos M.N. Eire

  • Carlos Eire’s National Book Award-winning memoir of his childhood in 1950s Havana and the overnight upheaval of his world in January 1959, when the Batista government was toppled.

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MOVIES

Buena Vista Social Club (Soundtrack)

Papa: Hemingway in Cuba

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WEBSITES

Encyclopedia Brittanica: Cuba

WikiTravel: Cuba

World Music Guide: Cuba – Son and Afro-Cuban Music

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Annotations for books are courtesy of NoveList Plus. Check out NoveList Plus for more great reading resources.

 

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