AFTER FIDEL: The Inside Story of Castro's Regime and Cuba's Next Leader

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AFTER FIDEL: The Inside Story of Castro's Regime and Cuba's Next Leader, Brian Latell, Palgrave MacMillan, New York, 2005, 248 pages, $24.95.

As the United States remains engaged in the complexities of Iraq's reconstruction and Iran's drive to acquire nuclear weapons, it cannot neglect adversaries in its own hemisphere. The U.S. is facing illegal immigration that allows terrorists to enter the country, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez continues his campaign of anti-American rhetoric, and finally there is Fidel Castro, the main subject of Brian Latell's new book, After Fidel: The Inside Story of Castro's Regime and Cuba's Next Leader.

Latell, a national intelligence officer for Latin America from 1990 to 1994, takes readers into the minds of Fidel Castro and his brother Raúl, the longest serving defense minister and Fidel's designated successor. The brothers were the illegitimate sons of a Spanish peasant named Angel Castro and grew up in a rough rural area in Brian, Cuba. Fidel's future, in particular, was shaped by his upbringing. Doted on by his sisters and mother and, because he was the first-born son, allotted an allowance by his father until he was 24, Fidel became a spoiled narcissist. In 1945, he entered the University of Havana Law School, not to become a great litigator or judge, but to seek control of the campus's political life.

Studying Fidel's university years helps the reader understand how the future dictator organized groups into mafias that agitated and protested the government. It also looks into the books that influenced the Cuban dictator. Fidel was obsessed with the poetry and essays of Jose Marti, who wrote primarily about Cuba's war for independence from Spain. Marti also saw a need to check the United States from eroding the unity of the Spanish-speaking Americas.

Fidel's 21st year was an eventful one. He took charge of university groups agitating for the liberation of Puerto Rico. Also, he and several other Cuban students traveled to Bogota, Columbia, to disrupt the pan-American conference that was about to establish the Organization of American States. Amid the urban violence in Bogota, Fidel emerged as a revolutionary. He read communist tracts not for the historical ideas of Karl Marx, but for the revolutionary tactics of Lenin. …


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