Fulgencio Batista: From Revolutionary to Strongman

Fulgencio Batista: From Revolutionary to Strongman

Fulgencio Batista: From Revolutionary to Strongman

Fulgencio Batista: From Revolutionary to Strongman


Pawn of the U.S. government. Right-hand man to the mob. Iron-fisted dictator. For decades, public understanding of the pre-Revolutionary Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista has been limited to these stereotypes. While on some level they all contain an element of truth, these superficial characterizations barely scratch the surface of the complex and compelling career of this important political figure.

Second only to Fidel Castro, Batista is the most controversial leader in modern Cuban history. And yet, until now, there has been no objective biography written about him. Existing biographical literature is predominantly polemical and either borders on hero worship or launches a series of attacks aimed at denigrating his entire legacy.

In this book, the first of two volumes, Frank Argote-Freyre provides a full and balanced portrait of this historically shadowed figure. He describes Batista's rise to power as part of a revolutionary movement and the intrigues and dangers that surrounded him. Drawing on an extensive review of Cuban newspapers, government records, memos, oral history interviews, and a selection of Batista's personal documents, Argote-Freyre moves beyond simplistic caricatures to uncover the real man-one with strengths and weaknesses and with a career marked by accomplishments as well as failures.

This volume focuses on Batista's role as a revolutionary leader from 1933 to 1934 and his image as a "strongman" in the years between 1934 and 1939. Argote-Freyre also uses Batista as an interpretive prism to review an entire era that is usually ignored by scholars-the Republican period of Cuban history. Bringing together global and local events, he considers the significance and relationship of the worldwide economic depression, the beginnings of World War II, and in Cuba, the Revolution of 1933, the expansion of the middle class, and the gradual development of democratic institutions.

Fulgencio Batista and most of Cuba's past prior to the Revolution of 1959 has been lost in the historical mists. Cuba had a rich and fascinating history before the Marxist Revolution and the reign of Fidel Castro. This captivating and long-overdue book uncovers it.


Fulgencio Batista, and for that matter most of Cuban history prior to the Revolution of 1959, is lost in the historical mists. There was a Cuba prior to Fidel Castro and the Marxist Revolution, and this study seeks to rediscover it. Batista dominated Cuban politics from the period between 1933 and 1959 in the same way Fidel Castro dominates Cuba today, and has done for more than the past four decades. This work attempts to accurately represent Batista.

These are my scholarly aims, but my motivations are more than historical. a large part of the motivation to write this book comes from a desire to know my family and the Cuba they lived in prior to the revolution. My father emigrated to the United States in 1955, during the period that Batista ruled Cuba, when one of his close friends in the railroad labor movement died under mysterious circumstances. the island was awash in revolution and revolutionaries, and he chose to emigrate to avoid becoming the next mysterious victim. in the aftermath of the revolution’s triumph, many of my relatives, some Castro supporters and others opponents, fled into exile. Some family members remained loyal to the revolution and decided to stay. Family conversations often centered on the Cuba prior to the revolution, so in many ways this book is one of self-discovery. in the process of uncovering the historical Batista, I have sought to uncover something about the world of my father and his brothers and sisters. It is a journey that I hope will interest readers.

I chose Batista as my subject because his failures and achievements played out on a grand scale in the Cuba of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, and even . . .

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