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How Fidel Castro became leader for life

Fidel Castro

Title: Fidel Castro: My Life - A Spoken Autobiography
Authors: Fidel Castro and Ignacio Ramonet
Publisher: Scribner, 2008
ISBN: 978-1416553281, 736 pages

Review: Fidel Castro
By Rolf Dobelli, Chairman, getAbstract

The United States has had 10 presidents since Fidel Castro became Cuba's prime minister in 1959. From Eisenhower, who refused to meet with him, to Kennedy, whose CIA wanted to kill him, to Clinton, who tried to ignore him, Castro outlasted them all.

He had amazing longevity, given what he dished out to his people and what he dealt with, from the Bay of Pigs attack to the Cuban missile crisis, a 50-year trade embargo, and hundreds of attempts on his life by the CIA, the Mafia, Cuban exiles and island dissidents. These ordeals involved all kinds of odd weapons, such as a poisoned diving suit, a seashell bomb and an exploding cigar. Cruel and charismatic, Castro exhibited remarkable staying power, having impoverished, exiled, jailed, tortured or killed most of his opponents over the decades. Finally, given serious illness, he resigned and turned the government over to his brother Raúl. Even though Fidel is frail and old, he once seemed as indestructible as the mountains of Sierra Maestra, where he began his revolutionary struggle.

If you want to know what makes Fidel tick, getAbstract suggests this autobiography, developed and edited by Spanish journalist Ignacio Ramonet from 100 hours of recorded interviews with Castro. This fascinating, in-depth book provides an insider's look into Castro's intriguing story. However, given that it reflects Castro's unleavened perceptions, its facts and interpretations may be open to question. Even while finding Fidel's viewpoint compelling, many would strongly disagree with the dictator's self-laudatory tone. Memory is longer than that.

Castro's Childhood and Young Adulthood

Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz was born on August 13, 1926, in eastern Cuba, in Birán, a backwater village in what was known as Oriente province. His father, Angel Castro y Argiz, was an enterprising Galician who emigrated from Spain to Cuba as a poor soldier and became a wealthy (25,000 acres) sugarcane plantation owner.

His mother, Lina, was a native Cuban. Castro had two brothers and four sisters. Though Castro loved and respected his parents, he rebelled against authority from his earliest days. Son of the region's wealthiest landowner, Castro was deeply moved as a boy by the unfairness of life and the poverty around him.

"I remember the illiterate, unemployed men who would stand in line near the cane fields," Castro said, "with nobody to bring them a drop of water, or breakfast or lunch, or give them shelter or transport." He viewed their treatment and neglect as "inconceivable wrongs." His parents sent young Castro to Santiago de Cuba for schooling. At 16, he went to Havana to attend the Colegio de Belén, a Jesuit school where he participated in athletics and enjoyed mountain climbing.

Becoming a Revolutionary

In 1945, Castro entered the University of Havana to study law. There he experienced a sharp political awakening. He became a devout Marxist-Leninist and a revolutionary. This was atypical on the conservative campus. Of the 15,000 students, only some 50 were hard-core anti-imperialists like Castro. He became a follower of Eduardo Chibás, leader of the Orthodox People's Party that opposed Cuba's brutal dictator, Fulgencio Batista. In 1947, Castro, 21, led a company in the unsuccessful Cayo Confites expedition to fight dictator Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. The next year, Castro was in Bogotá during the Bogotazo insurrection. He graduated from law school in 1950 and ran unsuccessfully for Cuba's congress.

In April 1952, Batista, no longer in power, headed a successful coup (his second) to remove Cuban President Carlos Prío Socarrás. Once restored to power, Batista quickly organized a far-right government aligned with the U.S. Castro despised Batista and his repressive regime. Further, he believed that the Cuban economy's basic structure condemned its campesinos (peasants) to a life of poverty. Cuba's economic engine depended on rich foreign interests and the Latifundos - enormous plantations owned by the superwealthy (like Castro's father). Seeing no way to liberalize Cuba's economic and political system, Castro decided to blow everything up...

Please click here to read on and receive a free summary of this outstanding book courtesy of getAbstract, the world's largest online library of business book summaries. (Available through August 1, 2010.)

By getAbstract

 |  July 27, 2010; 11:35 AM ET |  Category:  Books Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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