Art and Culture
Pérez, Louis A. On Becoming Cuban: Nationality, Identity and Culture. New York: Harper Perennial, 2001. Seminal and highly readable account of the development of Cuban culture from colonialism through communism.
Anderson, Jon Lee. Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life. New York: Grove Press, 1997. This definitive biography reveals heretofore unknown details of Che’s life and shows the dark side of this revolutionary icon.
Eire, Carlos. Waiting for Snow in Havana. New York: Free Press, 2004. An exquisitely told, hilarious, and heart-rending story of an exile’s joyous childhood years in Havana on the eve of the Revolution, and the trauma of being put on the Peter Pan airlift, never to see his father again.
Geyer, Georgie Anne. Guerrilla Prince: The Untold Story of Fidel Castro. Boston: Little Brown, 1991. This sobering profile of the Cuban leader strips Castro bare, revealing his charisma and cunning, pride and paranoia, and megalomania and myth.
Gimbel, Wendy. Havana Dreams: A Story of Cuba. London: Virago, 1998. The moving story of Naty Revuelta’s tormented love affair with Fidel Castro and the terrible consequences of a relationship as heady as the doomed romanticism of the Revolution.
Neyra, Edward J. Cuba Lost and Found. Cincinnati: Clerisy Press 2009. A Cuban-American’s moving tale of leaving Cuba on the Peter Pan airlift and his eventual return to his roots on the island.
Ramonte, Ignacio, ed. Fidel Castro: My Life. London: Penguin Books, 2008. In conversation with a fawning interviewer, Fidel tells his fascinating life story and expounds on his philosophy and passions. This often amusing and eyebrow-raising autobiography reveals Castro’s astounding erudition, acute grasp of history, unwavering commitment to humanistic ideals, and his delusions and pathological hatred of the United States.
Schwag, Rick. The Literacy Brigade and Other Cuban Stories. Lyndonville, VT: Zunzun Press, 2009. A cubaphile’s exquisite humanistic recollection of his visits to Cuba and with the family of the wife he brought home.
Szulc, Tad. Fidel: A Critical Portrait. New York: Morrow, 1986. A riveting profile of the astonishing life of this larger-than-life figure.
Perelman, Richard B. Perelman’s Pocket Cyclopedia of Havana Cigars. Perelman, Pioneer & Co, 1998. More than 160 pages with over 25 color photos providing a complete list of cigar brands and shapes. Handy 4- by 6-inch size.
Stout, Nancy. Habanos: The Story of the Havana Cigar. New York: Rizzoli, 1997. Beautifully illustrated coffee table book that tells you all you want to know about tobacco and its metamorphosis into fine cigars.
Baker, Christopher P. Cuba Classics: A Celebration of Vintage American Automobiles. Northampton, MA: Interlink Books, 2004. This lavishly illustrated coffee table book pays homage to Cuba’s astonishing wealth of antique cars, revealing the time-worn splendor of classic American automobiles spanning eight decades. The text traces the long love affair between Cubans and the U.S. automobile and offers a paean to the owners who keep their weary cacharros running through resourcefulness and ingenuity.
Barclay, Juliet (photographs by Martin Charles). Havana: Portrait of a City. London: Cassell, 1993. A well-researched and abundantly illustrated coffee table volume especially emphasizing the city’s history.
Carley, Rachel. Cuba: 400 Years of Architectural Legacy. New York: Whitney Library of Design, 1997. Beautifully illustrated coffee table book that traces the development of architectural styles, from colonial days to the Communist aesthetic hiatus and post-Soviet renaissance.
Evans, Walker. Walker Evans: Cuba. New York: Getty Publications, 2001. Recorded in 1933, these 60 beautiful black-and-white images capture in stark clarity the misery and hardships of life in the era.
Harvey, David Alan, and Elizabeth Newhouse. Cuba. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2000. An acclaimed photographer and a National Geographic editor display their passion for Cuba in this poignant and stunningly illustrated coffee-table book.
Kenny, Jack. Cuba. Ann Arbor, MI: Corazon Press, 2005. Beautiful black-and-white images capture the essence of Cuba and provide an intimate portrait into its soul.
Llanes, Lillian. Havana Then and Now. San Diego: Thunder Bay Press, 2004. A delightful collection of images wedding centenary black-and-whites to color photos showing the same locales as they are now.
Moruzzi, Peter. Havana Before Castro: When Cuba was a Tropical Playground. Salt Lake City: Gibbs Smith, 2008. This superb book is stuffed with fascinating images and tidbits that recall the heyday of sin and modernism.
Cabrera Infante, Guillermo. ¡Mea Cuba! New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1994. An acerbic, indignant, raw, wistful, and brilliant set of essays in which the author pours out his bile at the Castro regime.
Fuentes, Norberto. Hemingway in Cuba. Secaucus, NY: Lyle Stuart, 1984. The seminal, lavishly illustrated study of the Nobel Prize–winner’s years in Cuba.
Henken, Ted A. Cuba: A Global Studies Handbook. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2008. A thoughtful and thoroughly insightful compendium spanning everything from history and culture to “Castro as a Charismatic Hero.”
Martínez-Fernández, Luis, et al. Encyclopedia of Cuba: People, History, Culture. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2004. Comprehensive twin-volume set with chapters arranged by themes, such as history, plastic arts, and sports.
Rose, Andy, and Judy Bastyra. Eat Cuban. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2008. Lavishly illustrated, this coffee-table book blends recipes and cooking tips with profiles on the city landscape.
Shnookal, Deborah, and Mirta Muñiz, eds. José Martí Reader. New York: Ocean Press, 1999. An anthology of writings by one of the most brilliant and impassioned Latin American intellectuals of the 19th century.
History, Economics, and Politics
Bardach, Ann Louise. Cuba Confidential. New York: Random House, 2002. A brilliant study of the failed politics of poisoned Cuban–U.S. relations, and the spiteful, self-seeking power plays and grand hypocrisies of the warring factions in Washington, Miami, and Havana.
Bardach, Ann Louise. Without Fidel. New York: Scribner, 2009. In this superb sequel to Cuba Confidential, Bardach reports on Fidel’s mystery illness and twilight days, including the fall from grace of prominent Cuban politicians.
Cluster, Dick, and Rafael Hernández. History of Havana. New York, Palgrave-Macmillan, 2006. The co-authors imbue this historical treatise with the lively personality of the city.
Deutschmann, David, and Deborah Shnookal. Fidel Castro Reader. Melbourne: Ocean Press, 2007. Twenty of Castro’s most important speeches are presented verbatim.
English, T. J. Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba and then Lost It to the Revolution. New York: William Morrow, 2008. A fascinating and revealing account of the heyday of Cuba’s mobster connections and the sordid Batista era.
Estrada, Alfredo José. Havana: Autobiography of a City. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. Full of rich anecdotes, this gripping narrative brings one of the world’s most romantic cities to life.
Gott, Richard. Cuba: A New History. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005. Erudite, entertaining, and concise, yet with all the masterful detail that commends a tour de force.
Latell, Brian. After Fidel: The Inside Story of Castro’s Regime and Cuba’s Next Leader. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. A former senior CIA analyst profiles the personalities of Fidel and Raúl Castro, providing insights into their quixotic, mutually dependent relationship and the motivations that have shaped their antagonistic relationship with the United States.
Oppenheimer, Andres. Castro’s Final Hour. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992. A sobering, in-depth exposé of the uglier side of both Fidel Castro and the state system, including controversial topics such as drug trading.
Smith, Wayne. The Closest of Enemies. New York: W. W. Norton, 1987. Essential reading, this personal account of the author’s years serving as President Carter’s man in Havana during the 1970s provides key insights into the complexities that haunt U.S. relations with Cuba.
Sweig, Julia E. Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. A reference to Cuba’s history and politics, addressed in a clever question and answer format.
Thomas, Hugh. Cuba: The Pursuit of Freedom, 1726–1969. New York: Harper and Row, 1971. A seminal work—called a “magisterial conspectus of Cuban history”—tracing the evolution of conditions that eventually engendered the Revolution.
Thomas, Hugh. The Cuban Revolution. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1986. The definitive work on the Revolution, offering a brilliant analysis of all aspects of the country’s diverse and tragic history.
Wyden, Peter. Bay of Pigs: The Untold Story. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1979. An in-depth and riveting exposé of the CIA’s ill-conceived mission to topple Castro.
Cabrera Infante, Guillermo. Three Trapped Tigers. New York: Avon, 1985. A poignant and comic novel that captures the essence of life in Havana before the ascendance of Castro.
García, Cristina. Dreaming in Cuban. New York: Ballantine Books, 1992. A poignant and sensual tale of a family divided politically and geographically by the Cuban revolution and the generational fissures that open.
Greene, Graham. Our Man in Havana. New York: Penguin, 1971. The story of Wormold, a British vacuum-cleaner salesman in prerevolutionary Havana. Recruited by British intelligence, Wormold finds little information to pass on, and so invents it. Full of the sensuality and tensions of Batista’s last days.
Gutiérrez, Pedro Juan. Dirty Havana Trilogy. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2001. A bawdy semi-biographical take on the gritty life of Havana’s underclass—begging, whoring, escaping hardship through sex and santería—during the Special Period.
Hemingway, Ernest. Islands in the Stream. New York: Harper Collins, 1970. An exciting triptych set in Cuba during the war, it draws heavily on the author’s own experience hunting Nazi U-boats.
Hemingway, Ernest. The Old Man and the Sea. New York: Scribner’s, 1952. The simple yet profound story of an unlucky Cuban angler won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Baker, Christopher P. Moon Spotlight Havana. Emeryville, CA: Avalon Travel Publishing, 2010. The most thorough and up-to-date guidebook to Cuba’s capital city available, with extensive maps and essential tips.
Charles, Simon. The Cruising Guide to Cuba. St. Petersburg, FL: Cruising Guide Publications, 1997. Invaluable reference guide for every sailor wishing to charter sailing or motorized craft.
Fernández, Anibal, and Armando Menocal. Cuba Climbing. Squamish, BC: Quickdraw Publications, 2009. An indispensable guide that includes photos and diagrams of scores of routes.
Lightfoot, Claudia. Havana: A Cultural and Literary Companion. Northampton, MA: Interlink Publishing, 2001. The author leads you through Havana past and present using literary quotations and allusions to add dimension to the sites and experiences.
Rodríguez, Eduardo Luis. The Havana Guide: Modern Architecture 1925–1965. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2000. A marvelous guide to individual structures—homes, churches, theaters, government buildings—representing the best of modern architecture (1925–65) throughout Havana.
Smith, Barbara and Walter. Bicycling Cuba. Woodstock, VT: Backcountry Guides, 2002. A detailed and practical guide to cycling in Cuba, with routes and maps.
Aschkenas, Lea. Es Cuba: Life and Love on an Illegal Island. Emeryville, CA: Seal Press, 2006. Told with gentle compassion for a culture and country, Es Cuba reveals how the possibilities and hopes of the heart can surmount even the most obdurate political barriers.
Baker, Christopher P. Mi Moto Fidel: Motorcycling through Castro’s Cuba. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic’s Adventure Press, 2001. Winner of both the Lowell Thomas Award Travel Book of the Year and the North American Travel Journalist Association’s Grand Prize, this erotically charged tale of the author’s 7,000-mile adventure by motorcycle through Cuba offers a bittersweet look at the last Marxist “utopia.”
Corbett, Ben. This Is Cuba: An Outlaw Culture Survives. Cambridge, MA: Westview Press, 2002. This first-person account of life in Castro’s Cuba is a stinging indictment of the havoc, despair, and restraints wrought fidelismo.
Miller, Tom. Trading with the Enemy: A Yankee Travels through Castro’s Cuba. New York: Basic Books, 1996. Told by a famous author who lived in Cuba for almost a year, this travelogue is thoughtful, engaging, insightful, compassionate, and told in rich narrative.
Miller, Tom, ed. Travelers’ Tales: Cuba. San Francisco: Travelers’ Tales, 2001. Extracts from the contemporary works of 38 authors provide an at times hilarious, cautionary, and inspiring account of Cuba.
Ryan, Alan, ed. The Reader’s Companion to Cuba. New York: Harcourt Brace and Co., 1997. A gathering of some of the best travel writing about Cuba dating from the mid-1800s, spanning an eclectic menu of authors from John Muir and Graham Greene to baseball’s Tommy Lasorda.
Tattlin, Isadora. Cuba Diaries: An American Housewife in Havana. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books, 2002. A marvelous account of four years in Havana spent raising two children, entertaining her husband’s clients (including Fidel), and contending with chronic shortages.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Cuba, 5th Edition