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Publisher's Summary

“[DePalma] renders a Cuba few tourists will ever see.... You won’t forget these people soon, and you are bound to emerge from DePalma’s bighearted account with a deeper understanding of a storied island.... A remarkably revealing glimpse into the world of a muzzled yet irrepressibly ebullient neighbor.” (The New York Times)

Modern Cuba comes alive in a vibrant portrait of a group of families' varied journeys in one community over the last 20 years.

Cubans today, most of whom have lived their entire lives under the Castro regime, are hesitantly embracing the future. In his new book, Anthony DePalma, a veteran reporter with years of experience in Cuba, focuses on a neighborhood across the harbor from Old Havana to dramatize the optimism as well as the enormous challenges that Cubans face: a moving snapshot of Cuba with all its contradictions as the new regime opens the gate to the capitalism that Fidel railed against for so long. 

In Guanabacoa, longtime residents prove enterprising in the extreme. Scrounging materials in the black market, Cary Luisa Limonta Ewen has started her own small manufacturing business, a surprising turn for a former ranking member of the Communist Party. Her good friend Lili, a loyal Communist, heads the neighborhood's watchdog revolutionary committee. 

Artist Arturo Montoto, who had long lived and worked in Mexico, moved back to Cuba when he saw improving conditions but complains like any artist about recognition. In stark contrast, Jorge García lives in Miami and continues to seek justice for the sinking of a tugboat full of refugees, a tragedy that claimed the lives of his son, grandson, and 12 other family members, a massacre for which the government denies any role. In The Cubans, many patriots face one new question: is their loyalty to the revolution, or to their country? 

As people try to navigate their new reality, Cuba has become an improvised country, an old machine kept running with equal measures of ingenuity and desperation. A new kind of revolutionary spirit thrives beneath the conformity of a half century of totalitarian rule. And over all of this looms the United States, with its unpredictable policies, which warmed towards its neighbor under one administration but whose policies have now taken on a chill reminiscent of the Cold War.

©2020 Anthony DePalma (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“A sensitive portrait… In impressively specific detail, DePalma captures the suffering and resilience of ordinary Cubans caught between the political posturing of their government and the US. Readers will savor this intimate, eye-opening account.” (Publishers Weekly)

“For all that’s been written about revolutionary Cuba, I know of no book that more vividly describes the interior of the contemporary Cuban experience. The ordinary people who share their struggles with Anthony DePalma have seen the “bright promise” of revolution give way to the “dingy hardship” of real life. DePalma strips the Cuba story of its shabby ideological pretensions, but beneath the surface finds Cubans who still care for each other and whose resilience defines a patriotism all its own.” (Tom Gjelten, author of Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba

“Finally, a book not about Fidel, Raúl, or Ché Guevara, but about Cary, Pipo, Oscar, and other ordinary Cubans who tell not the history we have been fed for years but the real, remarkable, and complicated stories of people living with what Anthony DePalma aptly describes as the ‘interminable revolution.’ DePalma has surely become the best chronicler of Cuba today.” (Mirta Ojito, author of Finding Mañana: A Memoir of a Cuban Exodus)

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The real Cuba

I’ve been to Cuba many times and I’ve traveled far beyond the tourist locations. Anthony DePalma filled in many details that haven’t appeared in other books I’ve read. His beautiful writing makes the people real and integrates the history.
It is said Cuba is Complicated. It is less so with this book.
There was extra joy in revisiting the places mentioned in the book and reliving my time in the Pearl of the Antilles.

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Enlightening

DePalma’s decision to interview ordinary people from Cuba gives the reader a better sense of the micro-effect of the Castro revolution than do accounts written by political types or historians. It is riveting as you get to know and feel the pain and frustration of these remarkable people. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

And of course, Robertson Dean is the best

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Very very real

I have had the honor of returning now six times to my homeland that I left as a child. Not for any political or family reasons, but inspire of them.

What I have found is a similar depth of humanity that DePalma chronicles. Maybe with a deeper sense of spirituality and commitment than he documents. The refinement under fire is the same, but the product is purer and more unselfish than anything we have in Exile.

The kernel of Cuban glory and light highlighted in this book is real. It’s that glimmer that gives me hope for my land of birth and the darkness I see often in parts of the world; even in my adopted and loved USA.

Very real and great storytelling!

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this is a fictional story not a historical work...

a fictional story of persons in Cuba dealing with changes after the Cuban revolution. author leaves out what Cuba was before the revolution and suggests everyone was so happy before the revolution. leaves out that US embargo caused harm to cuba economy thus making the the pain and suffering more so than cuban government failures. just another cold war story...

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sixty years of pain just 90 miles south

it is so painful as not to be a fun read. but, it fills in the white space that explains why so many Cuban Americans have such strong, negative feelings about castro(s) and the Cuban revolution.

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Feels like you’re walking alongside the people of Cuba

This was a great book giving you a glimpse of the people Cuba and their life.