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Cuba or the Base?

Piero Gleijeses: Guantánamo, 26 March 2009

Guantanamo: A Working-Class History between Empire and Revolution 
by Jana Lipman.
California, 325 pp., £17.95, December 2008, 978 0 520 25540 1
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... Once the United States is in Cuba, who will drive them out?’ José Martí, the father of Cuban independence, asked from his New York exile in 1889. Six years later, as Cuba’s revolt against Spanish colonial rule began, Martí, now back in Cuba, was still preoccupied with the US threat. ‘What I have done, and shall continue to do,’ he wrote in his last letter, ‘is to … block with our blood … the annexation of the peoples of America to the turbulent and brutal North that despises them … I lived in the monster and know its entrails – and my sling is that of David ...

A Bone in the Throat

Piero Gleijeses: Castro, 19 August 2004

The Real Fidel Castro 
by Leycester Coltman.
Yale, 335 pp., £25, October 2003, 0 300 10188 0
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... 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 ...

‘We wrapped the guns in plastic bags’

Piero Gleijeses: Revolutionaries at Large, 2 November 2017

Cuba’s Revolutionary World 
by Jonathan Brown.
Harvard, 600 pp., £25, April 2017, 978 0 674 97198 1
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... We were​ absolutely convinced that we had discovered an infallible method to free the people,’ a close aide of Che Guevara’s once told me as we talked about Cuba’s support for armed struggle in Latin America in the 1960s. When Fidel Castro seized power in 1959, levels of poverty and exploitation in Latin America seemed to meet what Marxists called ‘the objective conditions’ for revolution ...

No Bananas Today

Rachel Nolan: Mario Vargas Llosa, 2 December 2021

Harsh Times 
by Mario Vargas Llosa.
Faber, 288 pp., £20, November, 978 0 571 36565 4
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... Party (a friend of Árbenz, which led to much of the paranoia around him) told the historian Piero Gleijeses: ‘They would have overthrown us even if we had grown no bananas.’ Take a quick look at the landowners who were unwilling to give up a single hill unless forced, and it’s obvious: there would have been guerrillas even if there had been ...

Apartheid’s Last Stand

Jeremy Harding, 17 March 2016

Magnificent and Beggar Land: Angola since the Civil War 
by Ricardo Soares de Oliveira.
Hurst, 291 pp., £25, March 2015, 978 1 84904 284 0
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A Short History of Modern Angola 
by David Birmingham.
Hurst, 256 pp., £17.99, December 2015, 978 1 84904 519 3
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Visions of Freedom: Havana, Washington, Pretoria and the Struggle for Southern Africa 
by Piero Gleijeses.
North Carolina, 655 pp., £27.95, February 2016, 978 1 4696 0968 3
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A General Theory of Oblivion 
by José Eduardo Agualusa, translated by Daniel Hahn.
Harvill, 245 pp., £14.99, June 2015, 978 1 84655 847 4
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In the Name of the People: Angola’s Forgotten Massacre 
by Lara Pawson.
I.B. Tauris, 271 pp., £20, April 2014, 978 1 78076 905 9
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Cuito Cuanavale: Frontline Accounts by Soviet Soldiers 
by G. Shubin, I. Zhdarkin et al, translated by Tamara Reilly.
Jacana, 222 pp., £12.95, May 2014, 978 1 4314 0963 1
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... south. The end of Portuguese rule was hastened by a left-wing officers’ coup in Lisbon in 1974. Piero Gleijeses’s story in Visions of Freedom begins shortly afterwards, with the MPLA fighting off the FNLA and Unita, in a bid to take control of Luanda and proclaim itself the first government of the new country. By now, Cold War sponsors were fully ...

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