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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A personal, quirky and highly enjoyable look at modern Cuba
Stephen Smith's 'The Land of Miracles' is a personal look at life in what Fidel Castro calls the 'special period' in the history of Cuba. It is based on several extended visits to the country over a number of years, and Smith gets himself into a variety of interesting and often amusing situations in order to experience and understand the real Cuba: eating Jútia...
Published on 11 May 2000

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting look at Cuba, but a bit hit and miss
I read this book while I was traveling round Cuba last year. I found it to be a fairly good reflection on Cuban life, even though the "special period" that was in place at the time of writing has finished.

There are some very riveting chapters in this book - my personal favourite being the final one, where the author tries to get a meeting with Fidel himself...
Published on 11 Dec. 2008 by Steven Brown


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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A personal, quirky and highly enjoyable look at modern Cuba, 11 May 2000
By A Customer
Stephen Smith's 'The Land of Miracles' is a personal look at life in what Fidel Castro calls the 'special period' in the history of Cuba. It is based on several extended visits to the country over a number of years, and Smith gets himself into a variety of interesting and often amusing situations in order to experience and understand the real Cuba: eating Jútia (a large tree rat and a great delicacy), taking tango lessons, being initiated into Santería, among others. He writes with affection for the country and its people and an obvious admiration for their ability to cope with the hardships and deprivations of recent years, and an enjoyable aspect of his style is the fact that he never takes himself, the 'Brit abroad', too seriously. Reading the book, you find yourself wondering if he will in fact get that 'in-depth' interview with Fidel which is his great ambition. And in the end? Well, of course, you'll have to read it to see. An extremely good read and an excellent introduction for anyone planning a visit to 'The Land of Miracles'.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting look at Cuba, but a bit hit and miss, 11 Dec. 2008
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Steven Brown (Edinburgh) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Cuba: The Land Of Miracles: A Journey Through Modern Cuba (Paperback)
I read this book while I was traveling round Cuba last year. I found it to be a fairly good reflection on Cuban life, even though the "special period" that was in place at the time of writing has finished.

There are some very riveting chapters in this book - my personal favourite being the final one, where the author tries to get a meeting with Fidel himself. It's gripping stuff, and you're willing him along.

However, there are several other chapters in the book which are the complete opposite - completely dull. His chapter on Santeria bores, as do several others.
There is a tendanacy to make himself the centre of every story. In particular, his will he/won't he be unfaithful to his girlfriend with his Cuban guide is rather tedious.

In summary, it's a decent read. I enjoyed it as I made my way round Cuba, and a lot of the book resonated with me - but don't expect any amazing insight, and be prepared to skip a couple of chapters.
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1.0 out of 5 stars This is rather a poor book in that the author doesn't seem to actually ..., 24 Mar. 2015
This is rather a poor book in that the author doesn't seem to actually like Cuba or indeed Cubans - apart from the ones who are dissatisfied with the Castro government, or who have left, or the ones who are actively plotting against it. At one point he grudgingly admits to being of the opinion that the revolution was a 'good thing' (really? you think?) but actually never says one good word about it or how life has improved immeasurably for most Cubans since the days of Batista and the presence of organised crime. There are some interesting episodes where the author takes part in religious ceremonies and one does get a sense of what it is like to travel around Cuba. However, there is barely a page where there is not some criticism of the regime and of Cuba itself; Cuba's military aid to Angola and Ethiopia (no mention of medical around around the world) is dismissed as an 'adventure' and there is not one interview with anyone who is proud of the country, the culture or the revolution nor any mention of the extraordinary improvements in health care and literacy amongst other things. Not exactly uninteresting but very, very shallow.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good insights but far too egocentric, 8 Mar. 2003
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This is a good book about life in Cuba in the mid-nineties, and not much has changed 6 years on, so most of the content is not out of date. He conveys a good sense of what Cuban daily life is. Smith is a careful observer, though not as careful a researcher of facts and figures; his analysis is a bit superficial and unsystematic.
The main problem I have with the book is that the author is too egocentric. The word "I" must appear a million time, and the prose often reads more like a book about the author himself than about Cuba. Would have been better if he had taken a bit of a step back here and there.
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4.0 out of 5 stars As Havana was in 1990s, 2 April 2014
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What Cuba was like in the 1990s just after the collapse of USSR support. Too focused on Havana yet with a great sense of fluid events. Contemporary Havana in 2014 very different yet with echoes. Great on detail. Enjoyable.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read, 9 Jan. 2014
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Just picked this up on a whim, but an enjoyable overview of life in Cuba, seen through the eyes of a traveller.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for anyone thinking off going to Cuba, 18 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: Cuba: The Land Of Miracles: A Journey Through Modern Cuba (Paperback)
Steven Smith is both witty and humane in his review of Cuba's current political and economic situation. The book is a gem of a travel book anyway, even if you're not thinking of visiting this land of miracles. Which would be a pity as they desperately need our currencies to rescue the fabric of the country, which has been abandoned by its former patrons the US. Don't forget- Cubans are Americans too!
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Cuba: The Land Of Miracles: A Journey Through Modern Cuba
Cuba: The Land Of Miracles: A Journey Through Modern Cuba by Stephen Smith (Paperback - 3 Nov. 2005)
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