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The Resource Havana : a subtropical delirium, Mark Kurlansky

Havana : a subtropical delirium, Mark Kurlansky

Label
Havana : a subtropical delirium
Title
Havana
Title remainder
a subtropical delirium
Statement of responsibility
Mark Kurlansky
Creator
Author
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
"Award-winning author Mark Kurlansky presents an insider's view of Havana: the elegant, tattered city he has come to know over more than thirty years. Part cultural history, part travelogue, with recipes, historic engravings, photographs, and Kurlansky's own pen-and-ink drawings throughout, Havana celebrates the city's singular music, literature, baseball, and food; its five centuries of outstanding, neglected architecture; and its extraordinary blend of cultures. Like all great cities, Havana has a rich history that informs the vibrant place it is today--from the native Taino to Columbus's landing, from Cuba's status as a U.S. protectorate to Batista's dictatorship and Castro's revolution, from Soviet presence to the welcoming of capitalist tourism. Havana is a place of extremes: a beautifully restored colonial city whose cobblestone streets pass through areas that have not been painted or repaired since the revolution. Kurlansky shows Havana through the eyes of Cuban writers, such as Alejo Carpentier and José Martí, and foreigners, including Graham Greene and Hemingway. He introduces us to Cuban baseball and its highly opinionated fans; the city's music scene, alive with the rhythm of Son; its culinary legacy. Once the only country Americans couldn't visit, Cuba is now opening to us, as is Havana, not only by plane or boat but also through Mark Kurlansky's multilayered and electrifying portrait of the long-elusive city"--
Tone
Writing style
Review
  • Warmly rendered and rich with the insights of an observer intimate with his subject, this paean to the city of Havana is as engaging as it is timely. The chapters read like a series of colorful picture postcards, each one a touchstone of Havana’s history and Cuban culture. One addressing the city’s intense tropical heat leads to reflections on bloody events that punctuate Havana’s “tragic and impassioned history,” because “in Havana every splash of light has its dark spot.” References to Cecilia Valdés (1882), the landmark novel of exiled Cuban novelist Cirilo Villaverde, invoke discussion of the island’s Afro-Cuban culture and its slave trade, which was not abolished until 1886. Descriptions of the city’s postrevolution character naturally invite comparisons to prerevolutionary Havana and its near-overdevelopment with luxury hotels promoted by mobster Meyer Lansky and other organized crime syndicates. Kurlansky (Paper) has a tour guide’s eye for Havana’s most notable aspects, and he anchors his colorful observations with historical details gleaned from more than three decades of familiarity with the place and its people, beginning in 1976 as a correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. This vivid travelogue may well persuade his readers that “Havana, for all its smells, sweat, crumbling walls, isolation, and difficult history, is the most romantic city in the world.” Agent: Charlotte Sheedy, Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. (Mar.) --Staff (Reviewed 01/09/2017) (Publishers Weekly, vol 264, issue 02, p)
  • /* Starred Review */ Kurlansky has moved on from food (Cod; The Big Oyster; Salt) and returned to the Caribbean. Former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro (1926–2016) is now gone, but his brother Raul is in charge, and the revolution lives. Kurlansky captures it all: how Cuba got to this point: the obliteration of the native Tainos, colonization by Spain, 19th-century independence movements, U.S. invasion, the American gangster period in Havana, and then the overthrow of President Fulgencio Batista. He continues with Castro's suppression of dissidents, the collapse of the Soviet Union and its ensuing Special Period, the opening up of Cuba to elements of capitalism, normalization of relations with its archenemy, the United States, and Castro's death. Kurlansky soberly reveals everything, warts and all. The Americans liberated Cuba from Spain, but their motives were hardly pure. Castro and his band of revolutionaries offered free health care and education for all, but had a difficult time providing basic foodstuffs. Gays were persecuted under the revolution in the 1960s, but now Castro's niece is a leading gay rights activist. VERDICT This extremely readable book is not preachy, not dogmatic, not shrill. As in life, there is a mixture of both good and evil, and Kurlansky, a frequent Cuba correspondent, covers it well. [See Prepub Alert, 7/11/16.]—Lee Arnold, Historical Soc. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia --Lee Arnold (Reviewed 02/15/2017) (Library Journal, vol 142, issue 3, p106)
  • Journeying through the streets, and history, of Cuba's famed capital.An award-winning writer on travel, food, and culture, Kurlansky (Paper: Paging Through History, 2016, etc.) was for 10 years the Chicago Tribune's Caribbean correspondent. He draws on many visits to the island for a spirited portrait of Havana, "like no other city on earth," a place of color, contradictions, and, for the author, enticing allure. "Havana, to be truthful, is a mess," he writes. "The sidewalks are cracked and broken, as are most of the streets." Walls are sun-bleached, some covered in "various molds, mildews," and other tropical blights; wood is destroyed by termites. The city "looks like the remnants of an ancient civilization." But despite troubled infrastructure, it throbs with life: music, dance, art, and food. Kurlansky chronicles the city's roiling past, beginning in 1492 with Columbus' landing, followed by Spanish conquest and the incursion of French pirates. Soon, Havana became "a huge slave-trading center" that generated enormous wealth. In fact, "slavery lasted longer in Cuba than anywhere in the Americas." By 1869, the author reports, there were more than 763,000 whites, 363,000 slaves, and 239,000 "free coloreds" on the island. Slaves could buy their freedom, which led many enslaved women to prostitution. That legacy persisted: until the revolution in 1959, Havana was reputed for its "huge prostitute market." "For many men," writes Kurlansky, "a visit to a prostitute was one of the celebrated features of a trip to Havana, along with music, rum, and cigars." American sugar interests developed the island to facilitate their own profits, bringing railroads and steamship service and selling off cheap land for the construction of villas for the rich minority. Besides focusing on economics and politics, Kurlansky evokes the African-inflected music that dominates the city and provides recipes for some quintessential Cuban dishes, such as the succulent stew known as ajiaco and for the Cuban version of the mojito. An affectionate, richly detailed, brief biography of a unique city.(Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2016)
Biography type
contains biographical information
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10556556
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Kurlansky, Mark
Dewey number
972.91
Index
no index present
Literary form
non fiction
Nature of contents
bibliography
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Kurlansky, Mark
  • Americans
  • Havana (Cuba)
  • Havana (Cuba)
  • Havana (Cuba)
  • Havana (Cuba)
Target audience
adult
http://bibfra.me/vocab/lite/titleRemainder
a subtropical delirium
Label
Havana : a subtropical delirium, Mark Kurlansky
Instantiates
Publication
Bibliography note
Includes bibliographical references
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
000059552358
Dimensions
21 cm.
Extent
259 pages
Isbn
9781632863911
Lccn
2016041072
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
(OCoLC)948335884
Label
Havana : a subtropical delirium, Mark Kurlansky
Publication
Bibliography note
Includes bibliographical references
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
000059552358
Dimensions
21 cm.
Extent
259 pages
Isbn
9781632863911
Lccn
2016041072
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
(OCoLC)948335884

Library Locations

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      -33.938111 151.237977
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