Last Dance in Havana by Eugene Robinson

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In power for forty-four years and counting, Fidel Castro has done everything possible to define Cuba to the world and to itself -- yet not even he has been able to control the thoughts and dreams of his people. Those thoughts and dreams are the basis for what may become a post-Castro Cuba. To more fully understand the future of America's near neighbor, veteran reporter Eugene Robinson knew exactly where to look -- or rather, to listen. In this provocative work, Robinson takes us on a sweaty, pulsating, and lyrical tour of a country on the verge of revolution, using its musicians as a window into its present and future.

Music is the mother's milk of Cuban culture. Cubans express their fondest hopes, their frustrations, even their political dissent, through music. Most Americans think only of salsa and the Buena Vista Social Club when they think of the music of Cuba, yet those styles are but a piece of a broad musical spectrum. Just as the West learned more about China after the Cultural Revolution by watching From Mao to Mozart, so will readers discover the real Cuba -- the living, breathing, dying, yet striving Cuba.

Cuban music is both wildly exuberant and achingly melancholy. A thick stew of African and European elements, it is astoundingly rich and influential to have come from such a tiny island. From rap stars who defy the government in their lyrics to violinists and pianists who attend the world's last Soviet-style conservatory to international pop stars who could make millions abroad yet choose to stay and work for peanuts, Robinson introduces us to unforgettable characters who happily bring him into their homes and backstage discussions.

Despite Castro's attempts to shut down nightclubs, obstruct artists, and subsidize only what he wants, the musicians and dancers of Cuba cannot stop, much less behave. Cubans move through their complicated lives the way they move on the dance floor, dashing and darting and spinning on a dime, seducing joy and fulfillment and next week's supply of food out of a broken system. Then at night they take to the real dance floors and invent fantastic new steps. Last Dance in Havana is heartwrenching, yet ultimately as joyous and hopeful as a rocking club late on a Saturday night.

About Eugene Robinson

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EUGENE ROBINSON joined the Washington Post in 1980, where he has served as London bureau chief, foreign editor, and, currently, associate editor and columnist. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard, and in 2009, Robinson was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary. Disintegration is his third book.
Published November 20, 2012 by Free Press. 288 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel. Non-fiction

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(Fidel once remarked that if there were to be prostitutes in Cuba, they would be “the healthiest and best-educated prostitutes in the world.”) Those who perforce remain on the island have weathered a long economic crisis brought on by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the disappearance of its ...

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He also has an annoying tic of referring to the "Carnegie Hall of Cuba," to the "Li'l Bow Wow of Cuba," the "Juilliard of the Caribbean," the "Justin Timberlake of...": you get the picture.

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Robinson is at pains to trace them all: he visits nightclubs and musician's homes, inspects Cuba's world-class music academies and demonstrates how Castro's seemingly capricious rules affect the ebb and flow of music.

Feb 03 2017 | Read Full Review of Last Dance in Havana


Obama worked Cuba into his policies of smart engagement, though his Havana policy is the opposite of his Ukraine policy.

Jan 21 2015 | Read Full Review of Last Dance in Havana


And she recounts how her writing on the topic led her to debate comic Jim Norton on a cable TV show, which led to swarms of men threatening her with rape and worse in an online attack campaign—which led to another of West’s epiphanies.

Jun 17 2016 | Read Full Review of Last Dance in Havana


2 - I don’t need lecturing on any of it - old news - yet… the Wikileaks drama?.

Jan 13 2011 | Read Full Review of Last Dance in Havana

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