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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Life
`My life' is Castro's autobiography as told in interview form with Ignacio Ramonet and it makes for fascinating reading. You get a question and answer format the whole way through, which actually makes for excellent flow and speedy reading. It is easy to read just one more question, and another and another.... You obviously get Castro's unique take on many aspects of...
Published on 9 Jun 2009 by Spider Monkey

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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The life
I found the chronology at theend f the book very interesting. I am orry to say that after about halfway I found the going tedious. I think my expectations were too high and I found th interview style unhelpful.
Published on 10 Mar 2009 by Mr. Brian Hayter


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Life, 9 Jun 2009
By 
Spider Monkey (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Life (Paperback)
`My life' is Castro's autobiography as told in interview form with Ignacio Ramonet and it makes for fascinating reading. You get a question and answer format the whole way through, which actually makes for excellent flow and speedy reading. It is easy to read just one more question, and another and another.... You obviously get Castro's unique take on many aspects of his own and Cuban life and although at times he comes across as particularly angry and firey, generally you get a balanced take on his life events. He seems willing to acknowledge mistakes he's made, as well as inevitably highlighting his successes. It is interesting to get his side of the story on issues such as `Bay of Pigs', `The Cuban Missile Crisis' and the `Special Period' and you slowly realise that the propaganda fed to us in western countries may not be as true as we are led to believe. I read `The Cuban Reader' (an excellent book and highly recommended by the way) at the same time as this book and it made for a more rounded look at the overall picture. For example it is interesting to read Castro's take on homosexual persecution and then read an article in the aforementioned book that shows a similar or opposing view. It enabled me to read this book with a more critical eye and get more out of it. There are two colour photo sections in this book that show Castro at various stages in his life, from pre revolutionary up to aged world statesman. This book shows just how intelligent and charming Castro is, as well as leaving you impressed at his grasp on world history and current affairs. This is an extremely readable book and is immensely insightful and is worth looking at for all those interested in Cuba and Cuban life. As long as you are aware of the bias any autobiography engenders and are prepared to look a little deeper, this has so much to offer it would be remiss to not read it at some point.

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59 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fidel - the truth will out, 26 Mar 2008
By 
Howard Parker (Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Life (Hardcover)
I have been utterly and surprisingly entranced by this book. I bought it to read on the plane to Havana and during a fantastic fortnight on this amazing island, Fidel's voice seemed to keep me company all the way. Even now, the power of his ethical vision for his people and his achievements stays with me and I feel sorry I was not more aware of what he has done sooner.

It is monstrous the way he has been denigrated by the USA and others and he is shown here to be probably the world's most brilliant political figure of the last 50 years. His main crime in the eys of the USA is his undying commitment to the revolutionary process, his unswerving belief in the possibility of an alternative to the presnt mad globalisation process and of course they have never forgiven him for outlasting 10 US presidents!

His is an extraordinary story of a survivor of over 600 CIA inspired assassination attempts, enormous personal bravery and fascinating views about history, culture, politics, the environment and, of course, Che.

His most amazing anecdote in the book was of how, at the height of the New Orleans flood tragedy, he actually offerd Bush 500 doctors to help out. For free! And of course Bush couldnt possibly accept. I think that counts as serious charisma in my book!

I cant recommend this book highly enough to people who want to believe that high principles and morality can actually triumph if your convictions are strong enough and if, as Che said, your revoluction is based on love of the people. '80 more years', as they say, tongue in cheek, on the posters in Havana!!!!
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50 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring account by a great and human man, 12 Dec 2007
By 
William Podmore (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Life (Hardcover)
This inspiring book is the result of conversations held in 2003-05. It is an autobiography à deux, `an oral summing-up of Fidel Castro's life by Fidel himself'.

Chapters cover his childhood and youth, his meeting Che Guevara, the 1959 Cuban revolution, the failed US attack at the Bay of Pigs, the 47-year US blockade, the incessant media attacks on Cuba, the US state's terrorist attacks on Cuba which have killed 3,500 people, the October 1962 crisis, Che's death, the collapse of the Soviet Union, globalisation, Cuba's relations with Spain, France and Latin America, and Cuba today.

Fidel is rightly proud of Cuba's magnificent achievements in education and health. Cuba's primary school children are first in the world in languages and maths. Cuba is first in the world in teachers per person and has the smallest class sizes. Cuba is educating thousands of people from Africa, Asia and Latin America, without charging a cent. Cuba provides government-sponsored scholarships to nearly 30,000 students from 121 countries currently enrolled in Cuba's universities, some 23,000 of whom are being trained as doctors.

Cuba is first in the world in doctors per person and is the largest educator of doctors in the world, ten times more than the USA. Cuba sends thousands of doctors to Africa, with its 30 million AIDS patients, while the whole EU cannot send even a hundred doctors there, instead stealing Africa's doctors and nurses. 37,000 Cuban health workers, including 18,000 doctors, are providing services in 79 countries. Since 2004, Cuba's Operation Miracle has restored sight to 1,000,000 patients from 32 countries.

Fidel has much to contribute to the debate on globalisation. He points out that the total debt owed by the countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America is $2.5 trillion, and that they get $53 billion a year aid, while paying interest of $350 billion a year. He notes that 500 monopolies control 80% of the world's economy, profiting from poverty-level wages.

Fidel points out that capitalism undermines all reforms and that one can't build socialism by capitalist methods. He attaches great importance to ethics, ideas, knowledge, values, and culture. As José Marti, another of Cuba's heroes, said, "Being cultured is the only way to be free."
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You don't get this level of detail on wikipedia!, 12 Jun 2008
By 
Jack Chamberlain "jack_sidney" (West Mercia, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Life (Hardcover)
Surely the world's most successful Socialist and Humanist. What would we give for 100 hours of interviews with leaders from the past - Henry VIII, Bolivar, Mao, etc. ?
This is a terrific insight into the life of someone I greatly admire for his principles and his actions. One of the greatest chapters is an early one where Castro talks about his revolutionary influences - characters such as Jose Marti, who I wasn't previously aware of.
Ramonet did an impressive job of pressing the issues with Castro, especially over the death penalty. My only gripe is that some subjects were obviously off-limits, such as Castro's estranged daughter.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why Castro is such a fascinating character, 1 Dec 2010
By 
Mr. R. Safadi "Ray Constantine" (London, England.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Life (Paperback)
This without a doubt is one of the best books I have ever read. I am a huge fan of what Fidel, Che and their army of Cuban farmers and rebels achieved in such a small country. In this book, it is personal. We get to hear Fidel's life story and it is highly recommended. One of the few icons still alive from the political side of things and this will probably his one and only personal book before he leaves this planet. It reads like a question and answer style which is very easy to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I stopped and bought a book, 23 Sep 2010
By 
Mr. J. H. Williams "jonaganggang" (Norfolk UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Life (Paperback)
I was wandering around a bookshop and this book caught my eye, it was so different to the 'easy reads' I'd been going for and the cover just got to me. I'm not sure how much I knew about Castro before the book, he took power in Cuba 4 years before I was born, but what I have learned makes me want to learn more, not just about what happened in Cuba but about what was happening all over the world during his era. It's an absolutely transfixing book, he''s so intense and his attention to detail so sharp that you keep wanting to read pages again to make sure you took it all in. His memories of Che appear throughout the book like postcards to a long lost friend, totally moving yet overwhelming because of the nature of the risks they took together and the way they cheated death. I've found the book truly inspiring, not because I want to be a communist revolutionary but because I want to believe in something so much that I would put my life on the line! Viva Fidel!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye opening, 22 Mar 2009
By 
Anthony Hyman "the nomad" (Germany) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: My Life (Paperback)
Love him or not, this erudite book puts the last 40 years of world history in an all together different perspective. Castro is someone who has seen many of the worlds current problems, namely financial profligacy and environmental destruction, as key issues to solve. His time as head of Cuba can be seen in many ways as a means to avoid the neo-liberal solutions that have bought many countries in Latin America to their knees. What makes this book so interesting is the interplay between the questions asked by the journalist and Castro's responses. Although the journalist is clearly sympathetic, he does ask hard questions about jailing of dissidents and control of the press.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I would even go so far as to say that he may be one of the most intelligent, informed and observant statesmen of the twentieth c, 4 July 2014
This review is from: My Life (Paperback)
I can honestly say that this is one of the most interesting and fascinating books I have ever read. It is not really a biography, but an interview – Castro’s longest and last – in which Ramonet covers his entire life from childhood to the present (2005). Although Ramonet is an avowed socialist himself and has known Castro for many years, he pulls few punches in tackling not only personal questions, but also the many allegations and accusations made against Cuba over the decades.

Say what you will of Fidel Castro, one accusation that cannot be seriously leveled against him is that he was ignorant. I would even go so far as to say that he may be one of the most intelligent, informed and observant statesmen of the twentieth century. It is easy to forget that Castro came to power over half a century ago in an era defined by the unbridled and often brutal exercise of dominance over the region by the United States and its economic interests, a country intoxicated by its own meteoric rise to power and no less determined to have its way. Much of what the world “knows” about Cuba and its recent history has been promulgated by US policy toward the island, which remains obstinately rigid to this day and has resulted in many egregious acts of state-sponsored violence against the government in Havana, of which the Bay of pigs invasion is perhaps the most well know, but by no means the only, or the last. To understand Cuba and Castro’s role as its leader, one must at least bear these circumstances in mind.

In many ways, Cuba is more a victim of Europe’s failed experiments with the tenants of Marxism than a collaborator in them, a country that, until the fall of the Soviet Union, walked a tightrope between the dogmatic totalitarianism of that system and the self-destructive consumer capitalism of its other giant neighbor to the north. The evils of the former have long since condemned it to ruin, while the evils of the later are only now becoming painstakingly apparent. Caught in the middle, the continued survival of Cuba as a devout socialist state might be seen as something of a miracle. But Cuba is no North Korea. Far from it. To understand why and just how different it really is one must take in the full scope of events which led to the revolution and all that has transpired since. This book does a brilliant job of painting that picture, while also introducing you to the man and the motives which have carried it forward.

I am no socialist. Nor am I a capitalist. My own political philosophy is rooted squarely in the belief that sane human beings can adopt and mould to their needs any system on offer, while mad men will invariably corrupt all that is laid before them and turn it into a tyranny by whatever means necessary. Political systems are little more than ideals. It is what men do with them that counts. In this light, what Cuba chooses to call itself is really just a coincidence of history. Far more interesting is what has been done in the name of those ideals and what it has led to. I am no apologist for the wrongs committed by, and in the name of, the Cuban revolution. But nor am I going to fall victim to the belief that the United States is right to have waged a brutal economic war against the nation (much of it falling squarely into to the general definition of terrorism) on a technicality as meaningless as political identity. The truth is that we will never know what might have become of Cuba had it been allowed to develop on a level playing field. It might have fallen alongside the Soviet Union, it might have beat China to the chase and become a major economic force in the region, who knows? What I will say is that under the stewardship of Castro, it would at least have had a fair chance at something worthwhile and far less bloody, a chance made impossible by the circumstances of the time.

I admit that I was frustrated on several occasions by the constant accusations leveled against the United States (the “Empire”). After all, it is a hallmark of totalitarian regimes to point to the existence of an “eternal” enemy as a justification for the restriction of freedom. The difference here is that the enemy in question, the United States, was real and every bit as menacing as it was portrait. By 1961 there was no longer even any need to hold up the threat of invasion because the invasion had already come and been successfully repulsed. The problem is that the US, in its determined efforts to topple the Cuban government by the same violent means it had come to power, and by engaging in the very same covert acts of infiltration, sabotage and assassination that it accused the Castro government of, the lines are constantly blurred. Nor does it help that while all this was playing out, the US toppled several popular revolutions and elected heads of state in the region, only to replace them with brutally repressive and often murderous regimes willing to support US interests while exercising no less repression over their people than the Cuban’s were accused of. In light of this one can but wonder if the what Castro was really guilty of was totalitarianism, or simply totalitarianism of the wrong kind.

It is of course up to readers what they choose to make of this book. For my part I can only urge you to read it. If nothing else, it will give you a different perspective on events, something no serious student of history should deny themselves.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Viva Fidel, 28 Jun 2014
This review is from: My Life (Paperback)
Condition of the book is great, especially for it being used. Packaging was excellent and the book arrived on time.
I haven't read it yet so can't comment on the book. Other than to say it was recommended as one of the most insightful books written about Castro.
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5.0 out of 5 stars book, 15 April 2014
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This review is from: My Life (Paperback)
this was a very interesting and insightful account of Fidel's whole life personal and political. I really enjoyed reading this book.
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My Life
My Life by Fidel Castro (Hardcover - 29 Oct 2007)
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