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The Bacardi empire, gay exile and the Cuban revolution.

Periodically, CubaNews offers reviews of books we think will interest our readers. This month, we present three new published works for avid Cuba-watchers:

BACARDI AND THE LONG FIGHT FOR CUBA

"Bacardi and The Long Fight for Cuba: The Biography of a Cause" is a gripping history of Cuba and a moving family saga capturing the life and times of the famous rum dynasty.

The book (ISBN 978-0-670-01978-6) goes on sale Sep. 8 and will be available from Viking for $27.95. The author is Tom Gjelten, a veteran correspondent for National Public Radio and a regular panelist on the PBS program Washington Week.

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In its 400 pages, Gjelten tells the dramatic story of one family, its business and its nation--paralleling and illustrating Cuba's own development.

The Bacardis of Cuba, builders of a rum distillery and a worldwide brand, came of age with their country and helped define what it meant to be Cuban. Across five generations, the Bacardi family has held fast to its Cuban identity--even in exile from the country for whose freedom they once fought.

"This is a first-rate distillation, at once illuminating and entrancing; a sweeping narrative that rivals the best of historical novels," says Carlos Eire, author of "Waiting for Snow in Havana," winner of the National Book Award. "This book will definitely enhance the buzz in every daiquiri and mojito, and give added meaning to every Cuba Libre served anywhere in the world."

Adds Publishers Weekly: "Gjelten's account of a liberal, progressive Cuban business clan complicates and enriches the conventional picture of a society torn between right and left dictatorships."

Indeed, Gjelten has wrapped up in one book an enthralling history of Cuba and a moving family story that includes photos of Cuba and the Bacardi family not previously published outside of Cuba. It also tells a remarkable business story: Bacardi is one of the largest privately held, family-owned companies in the world, and it has withstood two revolutions, dictators, countless family feuds and exile from the nation it still calls home.

Details: Louise Braverman, Viking, Penguin Putnam Inc., 375 Hudson Street, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10014. Tel: (212) 366-2227. Email: louise.braverman@us.penguingroup.com.

A GAY CUBAN ACTIVIST IN EXILE

Between the arrival of Reinaldo Arenas in the U.S. in 1980 and his suicide a decade later, the famed Cuban novelist produced his most mature writing--a prolific body of work that Rafael Ocasio places at the intersection of 20th-century sexual and cultural politics.

"A Gay Cuban Activist in Exile" (ISBN 9780-8130-3089-0; hardcover $59.95) is "an important scholarly contribution to affirming the crucial importance of Arenas as both a Cuban and gay Latino writer," says David William Foster, regents' professor of Spanish and women's studies at Arizona State University.

Adds Georgetown University professor Ricardo Ortiz: "This book will transform any future scholarship on Reinaldo Arenas' life and work ... An invaluable, timely contribution to our knowledge of one of Cuba's most important--and most misunderstood--literary artists."

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Examining the fiction of Arenas, critical articles, the epic poem El Central and hundreds of letters to friends and critics, Ocasio, a professor of Spanish at Agnes Scott College, explores the writer's bold criticism of the Castro regime and his bitter conflict with notable pro-Cas-tro supporters like Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

He connects Arenas' political activism to his public sexual identity and fierce advocacy of homosexuality, including his willingness to alienate latino and Latin American audiences in order to remain true to his self-proclaimed gay identity.

As much literary biography as interpretation, "A Gay Cuban Activist in Exile" also reveals how Arenas disguised and misused his criminal conviction in Cuba as a homosexual pederast. It discusses his posthumously published autobiography, "Before Night Falls," which documents the last, HIV-positive years of his life.

Details: Stephanie Williams, Publicity Mgr., University Press of Florida, 15 NW 15th Street, Gainesville, FL 32611. Tel: (352) 392-1351. Email: sw@upf.com. URL: www.upf.com.

CUBAN REVOLUTION READER

The Cuban revolution was one of the defining moments of the 20th century, its influence reaching far beyond the shores of this insignificant Caribbean island.

As Cuba marks the 50th anniversary of teh 1959 overthrow of the Batista dictatorship, "Cuban Revolution Reader," edited by Julio Garcia Luis, documents the turbulent history of Fidel Castro's revolution--from the euphoria of the early years to near-economic collapse in the 1990s, and finally the Cuban leader's decision to step down in 2008.

"Cuban Revolution Reader" (ISBN 978-1920888-89-3, price $21.95) offers a critical examination of Cuba's decades-long relationship with the Soviet Union. The epilogue considers the prospects for the revolution without Fidel.

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Including a comprehensive chronology and index, this 392-page book--to be published in December--is an essential resource for scholars and others.

Details: Jennifer Swihart, Consortium Book Sales & Distribution, 34 Thirteenth Ave. NE, #101, Minneapolis, MN 55413. Tel: (612) 746-2633. Fax: (612) 746-2606. Email: jswihart@ cbsd.com. URL: www.cbsd.com.

REGULATION OF FOREIGN INVESTMENT

"Cuba: The Regulation of Foreign Investment" provides 928 pages of original legislative texts and summaries in English and Spanish with side-by-side presentation.

The book (price: 250 [pounds sterling]/$495/E325/CUC 457) is published by Berger Young & Associates Ltd. in collaboration with the Cuban law firm of Consultores y Abogados Internacionales (Conabi), on the basis of relevant Cuban legislation in effect as of Jun. 30, 2008.

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Its promoters call the book "a unique and essential reference tool for foreign investors and businesses in Cuba, their legal and investment advisors, government and non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, students and others with an interest in Cuban law.

This comprehensive reference book can also be purchased online at www.amazon.co.uk and in selected bookstores.

Details: Sebastiaan Berger, Director, Ceiba Finance Ltd., Edificio Barcelona, Ofic. #401, Miramar Trade Center, 5ta Ave. e/76 y 78, La Habana. Tel: +53 7 204-7934. Fax: +53 7 204-7935. Email: sberger@ceibainvest.com.
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Publication:CubaNews
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 1, 2008
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