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Publisher's Summary

In this widely hailed book, NPR correspondent Tom Gjelten fuses the story of the Bacardi family and their famous rum business with Cuba's tumultuous experience over the last 150 years to produce a deeply entertaining historical narrative. The company Facundo Bacardi, launched in Cuba in 1862, brought worldwide fame to the island, and in the decades that followed, his Bacardi descendants participated in every aspect of Cuban life. With his intimate account of their struggles and adventures across five generations, Gjelten brings to life the larger story of Cuba's fight for freedom, its tortured relationship with America, the rise of Fidel Castro, and the violent division of the Cuban nation.

©2017 Tom Gjelten (P)2017 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"The Bacardi liquor story is every bit as engaging as Cuba's tumultuous political history, and both narrative strands are inexorably intertwined." (The Washington Post)

"A gripping saga that tells us just as much about human nature and the struggle between power and freedom as it does about Bacardi's transformation from a fledgling business into the world's top family-owned distiller." (The Wall Street Journal)

"It's hard to imagine that any [Cuban history] is as enjoyable...as smooth and refreshing as a well-made daiquiri." (Barry Gewen, The New York Times)

What listeners say about Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliantly written , amazing performance .

A really wonderful story that not only tells the truth of Cuba ( I am Cuban born) but gives the reader a deep look in to the Bacardi family and its company.

3 people found this helpful

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Great!

This book is incredible. I loved every chapter. The history of scuba and Bacardi are intertwined beautifully.

2 people found this helpful

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Incredible. Fascinating and enlightening

Absolutely fantastic. Explains so much of the history and politics of Cuba and of the Cuban exiles in the US. All while telling the story of the Bacardi family and company - a story fascinating on its own. Amazing.

2 people found this helpful

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Not worth your time

Often blatantly ahistorical, caters to the long, belligerent, and unsuccessful American opposition to Cuba. Just a poorly assembled cluster of all the same tired anti cuba narratives Americans have trumpeted since the 60s and a few interesting anecdotes about the early years of the Bacardi business.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Life-changing story.

Every Cuban should listen to this book at least one time in his life. And no person should make a judgment about Cuban history or even speak about the History of Cuba, without having read this book.
It describes accurately the original foundation of the Cuban spirit of patriotism and love for the fatherland.
It describes the sacrifices of thousands of Cubans to gain their independence, its struggle to keep it, and how it was lost more than 60 years ago.
It describes the resilience of the Cuban emigrants, their virtue, their capacity to grow over again after disgrace and adversity, and the commitment and will to never surrender.
Bacardi is not only a good liqueur, it's the spirit of the Cuban people in exile. The story of Bacardi, is as remarkable as beautiful and it is deservedly tied for good, to the Cuban history.

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    3 out of 5 stars

Nice idea but a bit of a snooze

I wanted to like this book but it’s hard to stay engaged. The reading is a bit monotonous and the writer spends a lot of time describing and revisiting the distillation process.

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Good historical account

While this was a good historical account, there was more repetition in ideas and instances than necessary. And often the impact of the Barcardi family on events was lost in recounting if details. Interesting to learn more about the history of Cuba.

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Good but need a real bilingual reader

As a 1st generation Cuban-American, I truly enjoyed hearing the history of Cuba from the Bacardi perspective. I do wish the reader was truly bilingual and not just someone who kind of knows Spanish. Some of his pronunciations of Spanish words made me cringe a little.

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  • K2
  • 07-18-19

An incredible story

Perhaps one of the best books I’ve read/heard in years. Provides incredible detail on an incredible family and their company, that survived the destruction is their country. A story that has yet to play out.

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Loved the book!

This was a fabulous book. I was unaware of the rich family history of the Bacardi family and heir Cuban struggles. Never knew Bacardi was originally a Cuban rum; and Bacardi was the first “hard liquor” I drank. I purchased the book for friends who have visited Cuba. I Highly recommend the audible version and the “read.” I did both, as the photos in the book are very helpful and provide context for the story.

1 person found this helpful