A Bone in the Throat
- The Real Fidel Castro by Leycester Coltman
Yale, 335 pp, £25.00, October 2003, ISBN 0 300 10188 0
Leycester Coltman was British ambassador in Cuba from 1991 to 1994. During these years, the dust jacket on his book claims, ‘he came as close to personal friendship with Castro as any foreigner was permitted.’ Coltman writes with great confidence, even immodesty – we are given the impression that he knows all Castro’s secrets – and the range of his book extends beyond his immediate experience to take in all of Castro’s life.
Vol. 26 No. 20 · 21 October 2004
Piero Gleijeses, in presenting Cuban military actions in Angola as a vital boost for black military morale in their fight against the ‘white giants’ of South Africa, veers from analysis into propaganda (LRB, 19 August). When the South Africans faced FAPLA or SWAPO forces they routinely inflicted disproportionate casualties. It was only when their army of young conscripts confronted the forces of the Cuban professional elite (Castro had sent his best), equipped with the latest Soviet matériel and under a Russian general, Konstantin Shagnovich, that it was sometimes a different story – especially when the South Africans were not only outgunned but outnumbered, as they frequently were.
St Margaret’s Bay, Nova Scotia