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June 19, 2019 @ 6:30 pm
The surprising story of Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, and the scrappy band of rebel men and women who followed them.
Most people are familiar with the basics of the Cuban Revolution of 1956–1959: it was led by two of the twentieth century’s most charismatic figures, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara; it successfully overthrew the island nation’s US–backed dictator; and it quickly went awry under Fidel’s rule.
But less is remembered about the amateur nature of the movement or the lives of its players. In this wildly entertaining and meticulously researched account, historian and journalist Tony Perrottet unravels the human drama behind history’s most improbable revolution: a scruffy handful of self-taught revolutionaries—many of them kids just out of college, literature majors, and art students, and including a number of extraordinary women—who defeated 40,000 professional soldiers to overthrow the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. Cuba Libre!’s deep dive into the revolution reveals fascinating details: How did Fidel’s highly organized lover Celia Sánchez whip the male guerrillas into shape? Who were the two dozen American volunteers who joined the Cuban rebels? How do you make land mines from condensed milk cans—or, for that matter, cook chorizo à la guerrilla (sausage guerrilla-style)?
Cuba Libre! is an absorbing look back at a liberation movement that captured the world’s imagination with its spectacular drama, foolhardy bravery, tragedy, and, sometimes, high comedy—and that set the stage for Cold War tensions that pushed the world to the brink of nuclear war.
About the Author:
Tony Perrottet is the author of six books: Cuba Libre!, Off the Deep End, Pagan Holiday, The Naked Olympics, Napoleon’s Privates, and The Sinner’s Grand Tour. His travel stories have been translated into a dozen languages and widely anthologized, having been selected six times for the Best American Travel Writing series. He is a regular television guest on the History Channel and a contributing writer at Smithsonian Magazine; his work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal Magazine, Condé Nast Traveler, T+L, Outside, Surface, and the London Sunday Times. He lives in New York.