Fidel Castro by Ignacio Ramonet
My Life: A Spoken Autobiography

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Synopsis

Fidel Castro is perhaps the most charismatic and controversial head of state in modern times. A dictatorial pariah to some, he has become a hero and inspiration for many of the world's poor, defiantly charting an independent and revolutionary path for Cuba over nearly half a century.

Numerous attempts have been made to get Castro to tell his own story. But only now, in the twilight of his years, has he been prepared to set out the details of his remarkable biography for the world to read. This book is nothing less than his living testament. As he told reporters, his desire to finish checking its text was the one thing that kept him going through his recent illness. He presented a copy of the book in its Spanish edition to his compadre President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela.

In these pages, Castro narrates a compelling chronicle that spans the harshness of his elementary school teachers; the early failures of the revolution; his intense comradeship with Che Guevara and their astonishing, against-all-odds victory over the dictator Batista; the Cuban perspective on the Bay of Pigs and the ensuing missile crisis; the active role of Cuba in African independence movements (especially its large military involvement in fighting apartheid South Africa in Angola); his relations with prominent public figures such as Boris Yeltsin, Pope John Paul II, and Saddam Hussein; and his dealings with no less than ten successive American presidents, from Eisenhower to George W. Bush.

Castro talks proudly of increasing life expectancy in Cuba (now longer than in the United States); of the half million students in Cuban universities; and of the training of seventy thousand Cuban doctors nearly half of whom work abroad, assisting the poor in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. He is confronted with a number of thorny issues, including democracy and human rights, discrimination toward homosexuals, and the continuing presence of the death penalty on Cuban statute books. Along the way he shares intimacies about more personal matters: the benevolent strictness of his father, his successful attempt to give up cigars, his love of Ernest Hemingway's novels, and his calculation that by not shaving he saves up to ten working days each year.

Drawing on more than one hundred hours of interviews with Ignacio Ramonet, a knowledgeable and trusted interlocutor, this spoken autobiography will stand as the definitive record of an extraordinary life lived in turbulent times.
 

About Ignacio Ramonet

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IGNACIO RAMONETis editor of Le Monde diplomatique. He is the author of Wars of the 21st Century and Geopolitics of Chaos, the founder of Media Watch Global, and a regular contributor to the Spanish daily El País. FIDEL CASTRO has led Cuba since the revolution of 1959.
 
Published March 11, 2008 by Scribner. 737 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Fidel Castro

Kirkus Reviews

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(On that note, asked who did JFK in, Castro provides only watery fuel for the conspiracy buffs: “What the official version says is quite simply not possible—not just like that, bang bang bang.”) Elsewhere, he recounts how he acquired his toughness—in large measure, he reckons, from the Spanish Je...

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The Guardian

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Ramonet has been attacked for being uncritical - slightly absurdly since this is supposed to be Castro's book, which the man himself edited from his hospital bed - but he in fact presses the Cuban president on pretty well every controversial question, from caudillismo and dictatorship to press fr...

Nov 09 2007 | Read Full Review of Fidel Castro: My Life: A Spok...

The Guardian

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My Life by Fidel Castro, with Ignacio Ramonet, translated by Andrew Hurley Allen Lane £25, pp724 In the early afternoon of 5 December 1956, Fidel Castro, then aged 30, and around 80 followers settled down to spend the night on a small hill surrounded by sugarcane fields and woods in Cuba's Alegr...

Oct 28 2007 | Read Full Review of Fidel Castro: My Life: A Spok...

Publishers Weekly

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In February, 2002, Ramonet, the editor of French monthly Le Monde diplomatique, began a two-year conversation with the controversial Cuban head of state, a collaboration that resulted in this Q&A-style, Castro-approved look into the revolutionary leader's life, from boyhood through his half-centu...

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Publishers Weekly

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This stunning autobiography of the controversial Cuban dictator is replete with stories spanning Castro's entire lifetime, everything from his relationship with Che Guevara to the Bay of Pigs invasion.

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Book Reporter

He cites the fact that nearly every country in the world, except the United States and Israel, has voted in the United Nations to end the long-standing blockade against Cuba set up when it became obvious that Castro, turned away in an attempt to parlay with President Eisenhower, was going to deal...

Jan 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Fidel Castro: My Life: A Spok...

Military.com

(Scribner, 626 pages, $40), by Ignacio Ramonet and Fidel Castro: In the winter of his life, and with his political future unclear, Fidel Castro's personal musings on subjects from the Cuban Missile Crisis to his successor are now accessible to Americans in a new English version of more than 100 h...

Jan 25 2008 | Read Full Review of Fidel Castro: My Life: A Spok...

The Moderate Voice

You can’t imagine that man’s sensitivity!” Of course Castro is putting himself in the best possible light, as he is Che, but readers wanting to get a deeper understanding into what went on between Castro and Che and why Che is so loathed by many won’t be finding it in this book.

Mar 17 2008 | Read Full Review of Fidel Castro: My Life: A Spok...

OpEdNews

Over the last seven months, John Little has posted at OpEdNews his remarkable review of the book "Fidel Casto: My Life: A Spoken Autobiography" by Ignacio Ramonet.

Sep 15 2009 | Read Full Review of Fidel Castro: My Life: A Spok...

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In fact, over four novels, a collection of short-form erotica, a book of political nonfiction and countless articles, Stephen Elliott has written extensively about pretty much every aspect of being Stephen Elliott: the illness and early death of his mother, the constant abuse and neglect from his...

Oct 22 2010 | Read Full Review of Fidel Castro: My Life: A Spok...

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