Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Over Hill and Tale

The ending of this article which posits San Juan Hill as emblematic of US-Cuba relations could have been written by the regime. Oh, wait, it probably was, at least indirectly. I'll dispense with the usual explanations, except to say that the comparison is oversimiplified and not quite accurate. Still, there is truth there, particularly the notion that the perspective of American History is different than that of even preCastro Cuba.

Like many of my generation, the Cuban history I know is a mix of American textbooks, familial retelling, and research. That's why the earliest chapters of Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba: The Biography of a Cause by Tom Gjelten which focus on the family and its ties to Santiago proves valuable. Mr. Gjelten attempts to convey the Cuban view of the American intervention and its results within the context of telling the story of los Bacardi. Doubtless a delight for students of history and Bacardiphiles, I've been unable to finish it in the one week time frame decreed by my local public library, even with fines. Still from what I've managed to read in the interim, it strikes me as an important book.

Translation: I can't vouch for his treatment of the brothers Castro. I leave you with this excerpt from the author's website:

Over many tellings, the Cuba story has hardened around a few stale themes—Havana in its debauched heyday or Fidel Castro and his dour revolution—and it has lost much of its vitality and wholeness. This book originated in my search for a new narrative, with new Cuban characters and a plot that does justice to this island that produced the conga line and “Guantanamera” as well as Che Guevara’s five-year-plans. I have tried to give a nuanced view of the nation’s experience over the last century and a half. Cuban history was not preordained. There were choices made and paths not taken, and the men and women who were excluded and then exiled deserve to have their contributions recognized, if only to understand why so many became so angry. The Bacardi saga serves all these purposes.


The New York Times reviewed it here.

1 comment:

Larry Daley said...

I posted this note at that news site:

As usual Castro, the son of a Spanish soldier, distorts history. Yes greatgrandfather Calixto Garcia was temporarily barred entry into Santiago even though he and his men had considerable part in the taking of the City. However, what is conveniently forgotten, that in an astounding departure from then colonial policies of the "great powers;" General Leonard Wood apologized to General Garcia (who graciously accepted the apology and entered the city). Then the US provisional government gave way to a Cuban government, after immensely improving health and infrastructure. The so called onerous Platt Amendment was revoked in 1933; twenty five years before Castro reached power.
Larry Daley (Garcia-I~niguez Enamorado Ramirez)