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Slow Train to Guantanamo [Paperback]

Peter Millar
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
RRP: £11.99
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Book Description

1 July 2013
It is an island more than 1000 kilometres long and was the sixth in the world (before its colonial master Spain) to have a national rail network. Cuba today feels like a nation at the end of a long, hard war. Peter Millar jumps aboard a railway system that was once the pride of Latin America and is now a crippled casualty case to undertake a railway odyssey the length of Cuba in the dying days of the Castro regime. Starting in the ramshackle but romantic capital of Havana, he travels with ordinary Cubans, sharing anecdotes, life stories and political opinions, to the far end of the island where he meets a more modern blot of American history, the Guantanamo naval base and detention centre.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Arcadia Books (1 July 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1908129506
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908129505
  • Product Dimensions: 21.5 x 13.5 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 51,706 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Peter Millar was born in Northern Ireland and educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he read French and Russian. He worked for Reuters news agency as the sole non-German correspondent in East Berlin in the early 1980s, also covering the Solidarity movement in Poland before moving to Warsaw, where he pressed the button to tell the world of the election of Mikhail Gorbachev, a defining moment in Soviet history.

In 1985 he joined the Sunday Telegraph in the newly created role as Central Europe Correspondent - a title he invented to anticipate the dramatic changes about to overtake the continent - before moving to The Sunday Times, in early 1989, just in time to catch the climactic final stages of The Cold War. Millar was seized by the Volkspolizei on the streets of East Berlin during the demonstrations which accompanied Gorbachev's visit in October, interrogated by the Stasi and expelled from the country. Nonetheless he managed to get back by November 9, the dramatic night the Berlin Wall came down.

These events form the background to his 2009 autobiographical book: 1989, The Berlin Wall (My Part in its Downfall), a title he freely admits much to the late Spike Milligan. He is a firm believer that there is humour (if occasionally dark) behind even the greatest historical events.

In the 1990s Millar worked briefly with Robert Maxwell, as deputy editor of his ill-fated newspaper The European, a role he has since described as "like being aide-de-camp to Stalin."

For the past decade Millar has concentrated on books, with two thrillers to his name and a third - The Black Madona - due out in the autumn of 2010. He is also author of All Gone to Look for America, a travel book reflecting his love of trains, history and good beer, crisscrossing the United States in a 10,000 mile journey on the now little used railways that were instrumental in turning most of a continent into a single nation.

He is married with two grown-up sons, divides his time between the north Oxfordshire brewing village of Hook Norton and South London where he can often be found (often in a state of chronic despair and with fingernails chewed to the bone) following the vicissitudes inflicted by fate on his beloved Charlton Athletic.

Product Description

About the Author

Peter Millar has worked for Reuters, the Telegraph Group and the Sunday Times as a foreign correspondent. For the latter he covered the fall of the Berlin Wall and was named Foreign Correspondent of the Year. He is the author of four thrillers, as well as a travel book, All Gone to Look for America and 1989 The Berlin Wall: My Part in its Downfall.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Go to Cuba... 11 July 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I travelled the length of Cuba in 2004, although only a small distance by train. The images this book conveys are therefore familiar, though things do seem to have changed in the last few years. The book captures the essence of this remarkable country and its wonderful people. The Cuban attitude to the inconveniences of, well, their conveniences for one thing, is something many people of the world could learn from and that would make the world a better place to live. The fact that such a dysfunctional regime has survived longer than many political systems in history is quite fascinating. The book gives an insight into Cuban daily life, Caribbean communism, the food, the beer, the colours, the smells (good and bad) and the realities of an artificial economy that the package deal tourists will never even glimpse. If you have ever been to Varadero and Havanna (the standard package), read this book, then go back and see the real Cuba whilst you still can. If you have never been to Cuba, read this book, and if you then don't want to go to Cuba, you have no soul, and they wouldn't want you there anyway. Go to Cuba, but take your own toilet seat, and paper, the locals will understand.
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If you thought Cuba was an island paradise, Millar takes the train and shows you the true picture of a poor country. The infrastructure is crumbling and people are suffering rationing and lack of basic necessities such as running water and clean living areas.

A travelogue with a difference and what a difference. If you’ve travelled in Latin America or Cuba in particular there are lots of things that you will sympathise and empathise with.

The island is a fascinating place and although I’ve only viewed it from Key West, ti fascinates with its historical shadow and the faded colour and rusty old cars that we see on the tv. Oh to smell the cigars and to see the real country which you can do with Peter’s very funny and insightful account. The humour and generosity of its people really shines through as does the worn out feel of their surroundings.

How I laughed at the trial of buying or trying to buy a ticket from a remote ticket office. Oh and the waiting game, not to mention the completely different approach to wanting to sit once on the train and that’s if it even arrives.
The noise and the shaking of the train journey was another nice touch - ah this author has seen and done it all - and thankfully has lived to tell the tale. This is one funny and utterly compelling account of one man’s journey across Cuba enriched with his observations and wit.

Oh and not forgetting the snippets of interesting facts such how Che (dramatically represented on the cover) got his name, what Daiquiri really is and how Cadbury and Hershey’s chocolate have in common....fascinating.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars travel options in Cuba 27 Dec 2013
Having spent 5 days at Santiago with the intention of flying to Havana and then returning by train, this travelers tale confirms why we did not attempt the trip. Having looked at the type of aircraft that were available on that route we decided that it would not be a relaxing holiday journey.
Peter Millars book give a insight in to a way of life that can only come about with trying to mix a market economy with a Utopian centrally dominated economy. Whilst some elements of the Cuban life has some advantages over our Western ways, the author paints a picture of a country that is worn out.
A very entertaining book and a good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CUBA by train and the missing consonants 6 Nov 2013
Above rusty nails sparks fly,
crimson flowers fade.
When will my train come (train-inspired Haiku penned by the author)

Ever dreamt of going to Cuba? Well, with the help of Peter Millar and Slow Train to Guantanamo you can! You can enjoy a travelogue via train right from the North to the South, with colourful stops along the way. This is a train line that stretches 1,200km and the average Cuban can travel the full length for the price of can of beer - it might take days in the decrepit carriages brought together from East Germany and Russia, but it is certainly value for money.

Cuba is by no means an easy country to navigate. Don't even think of trying Castilian Spanish. This is truly the land of dropped consonants. Cua e' Cua... Cuba is Cuba (the refrain when things don't go according to plan, which is, well, most of the time). Want to use the local currency, the Peso Nacional? No, as a foreigner to Cuba CUCs are what you need.

This is a wonderfully vivid evocation of a hot, in parts tropical country, where the infrastructure is teetering on its last legs. This doesn't stop the locals shimmying along in alluring attire, where women officials wear micro minis with fishnet stockings and the men burst through their T shirts with well-honed muscles. Yet, there is so much in everyday life that proves to be a real struggle, both for the locals; and for the traveller, who wants to explore something other than the gated hotel complexes, where most foreigners hole up.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
The book was a gift for my husband. He loves travel writing and absolutely loves this book.
Published 17 hours ago by Geraldine Pictor
5.0 out of 5 stars which made it easy to read
This book has made me realise that train travel in Cuba is only for the very adventurous and those with a reasonable degree of Spanish! Read more
Published 8 days ago by Jenny M
5.0 out of 5 stars Bought as a gift.
Have bought it as a gift for someone, so have not read it myself.
Published 13 days ago by Jano
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read, have been to Cuba ad absolutely luved ...
Fantastic read, have been to Cuba ad absolutely luved it, Havana was a delight to visit, brought back many memories, would recommend this book to anyone who has been or is... Read more
Published 16 days ago by Marion
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very discriptive, feel as though you are taking the journey with the author.
Published 29 days ago by Vera Spencer
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written and a good read
Having travelled to Cuba last year I attempted to take a less ambitious train journey (from Havana to Moron), but chickened out when I saw the train! Read more
Published 1 month ago by Stephen O'Connor
5.0 out of 5 stars Planning a trip there right now
Absolutely fantastic read.From start to finish.
Published 1 month ago by m pollard
4.0 out of 5 stars Currency conundrum...
Haven't quite finished this book yet but am thoroughly enjoying it. Informative and entertaining at the same time, though I still haven't quite worked out how the currency works... Read more
Published 1 month ago by S F Canfield
4.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable read
Very good read .I enjoyed it as most of the places described are accurate. And the people are very friendly apart from immigration department.
Published 2 months ago by wanderer
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting perspective on cuba
A revealing insight into the travel opportunities in Cuba. A Very engaging read which may inspire adventurous travellers to visit before further changes to Cuba alter the county
Published 3 months ago by SurfWales
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