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The Taming of Fidel Castro

By (author) Maurice Halperin
Format: Hardback
Publisher: University of California Press, Berkerley, United States
Published: 30th Jun 1981
Dimensions: w 150mm h 230mm
Weight: 760g
ISBN-10: 0520041844
ISBN-13: 9780520041844
Barcode No: 9780520041844

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Kirkus US
Some sort of circle is being completed here. Halperin, who lost his teaching position at Boston University during the McCarthy purges and subsequently worked as a teacher and advisor on economics in the Third World (including Mexico, Brazil, and, from 1962 to 1968, Cuba) and the USSR, concludes his study of Castro's Cuba - begun in The Rise and Decline of Fidel Castro (1972) - with an all-out attack on Cuba's slide into docility within the Soviet camp. Halperin details the process by which this "taming" took place, and there is plenty of blame to go around. The US is, of course faulted: first, for taking a hostile position on the Cuban revolution and forcing Castro to make a deal with Moscow guaranteeing the price of Cuban sugar (which it needed because of the US-induced economic quarantining of the island); then, for shunning Fidel in 1964 when he attempted a rapprochement, thus pushing him further into dependence upon the Russians. The Soviets are charged with trying to entice the Cubans - and did indeed seek to exploit divisions between pro- and anti-Soviet factions in the Cuban leadership. For a while, the Cubans had some bargaining power - as the potential inciter of Latin American revolutions - but their long line of failures in that regard undercut it. Halperin sees the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia as Fidel's foremost opportunity to gain some leverage with the USSR through Cuban support of the action; but the sad state of the Cuban economy constrained him, and Halperin adds Fidel's own errors to those of the US to account for that. The one-crop strategy was the clearest mistake; and the failure of the hoped-for miracle of a ten-million-ton harvest left Fidel with nowhere to turn but Moscow. Now, Halperin says, Cuba has become just another pliant member of the Soviet circle; its economy is fully integrated into that of the USSR, and its political and cultural life has been adjusted to match. What isn't clear, however, is what alternative model Halperin had in mind, apart from traditional economics - a tame position too for a one-time "subversive." The book is, in any case, highly polemical - and best balanced with Jorge Dominguez' more judicious Cuba (1978). (Kirkus Reviews)