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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Supergran does Cuba
Having recently returned from a two week independent tour of Cuba with very mixed feelings about the place I was interested to see the dynamic Dervla was bringing out a book on the island.
The first hundred pages are about her experiences while on a tour of eastern Cuba with her daughter and three grandaughters (the trio as she calls them)which I found all a bit too...
Published on 9 Dec 2008 by Brian Phelan

versus
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good in parts
I find Dervla refreshing in her determination and I admire the fact that she seems to have simplified her travel needs down to a regular supply of beer!
She seems to embrace discomfort and this seemed to me to be something she felt put her in common with people she met.

I have just returned from Cuba and I was one of the despised package tourists ,staying...
Published 19 months ago by Jayne S.


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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Supergran does Cuba, 9 Dec 2008
By 
Brian Phelan - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Having recently returned from a two week independent tour of Cuba with very mixed feelings about the place I was interested to see the dynamic Dervla was bringing out a book on the island.
The first hundred pages are about her experiences while on a tour of eastern Cuba with her daughter and three grandaughters (the trio as she calls them)which I found all a bit too domestic but then for the following three hundred pages we get vintage Dervla as she returns for two solo trips around the rest of the island.
With her usual scorn for modern conveniences she travels by every clapped out means of transport she can find and when she can't find any she just walks. On route, she meets and talks to scores of ordinary Cubans whose views are reported without fear or favour.
The book is laced with a plentiful supply of historical fact and political polemic. While the authors own sympathies for what she calls Castroism are very evident she nevertheless has plenty of criticism for the regimes failings.
This is the real 'rough guide' to Cuba.
Minor criticisms are the poor illustrations and a number of typo errors but I'll lay them at the door of the publisher as Dervla Murphy is a secular saint(of travellers)in my humble opinion.

If you are interested in Cuba, go and buy it.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great mix of personal and historical analysis, 12 Mar 2010
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This review is from: The Island That Dared: Journeys in Cuba (Paperback)
I have devoured most of Dervla Murphy's books with great enjoyment. I found this one similar in style to "The Embers of Chaos", her book about the Balkans, in that there is a large amount of historical and political background compared to her usual books - possibly because these two areas require such an analysis due to their complex histories. It made the reading a little heavier than usual, but that's no bad thing.

The book has two sections, the first a charming account of her journey to Cuba with her daughter and granddaughters, the second written after a solo return to the island some months later.

The book does a great job of showing you what life is really like for the average Cuban and reaches past the western anti-Castro propaganda and the green-sea-white-sand sanitized and segregated tourist brochure idyll, presenting a reality that is at odds with and seriously threatened by both of these views.

This is a mature and insightful work of great value. You will not be disappointed.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A travelogue with depth and context, 8 April 2011
By 
E. Smith (U.K.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Island That Dared: Journeys in Cuba (Paperback)
This is a superb book for anyone who has been to Cuba or who has an interest in Cuba. It is a travelogue but also much more than that.
Dervla Murphy makes considerable effort to understand the context of this complex and unique island, and that involves sections of historical, political and social analysis, as well as straight-forward - and very enjoyable - passages of travel writing. However it is far from a dull read. It is not a lightweight read, granted, but it reads well, and the historical and political aspects that Murphy looks at only serve to add necessary understanding towards what it is that makes Cuba so unique. Murphy does not attempt to sit on the fence in terms of her own views; this might irritate some, but for me it just adds to the charm of her writing. She is an intelligent and forthright woman without guille, and with a heart and a mind open to the everyday people that she meets and describes so well.
Very few people could do Cuba justice in print as well as Murphy has done here. I've read many of her books, and this, for me, stands up as one of her finest.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good in parts, 19 Feb 2013
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This review is from: The Island That Dared: Journeys in Cuba (Paperback)
I find Dervla refreshing in her determination and I admire the fact that she seems to have simplified her travel needs down to a regular supply of beer!
She seems to embrace discomfort and this seemed to me to be something she felt put her in common with people she met.

I have just returned from Cuba and I was one of the despised package tourists ,staying in a resort on Varadero. We could have had a lovely time without going outside the door but we took the trouble to do some research ,including Lonely Planet and "The Island that Dared" which I am now re-reading. We spent a few days in Havana and spoke to as many people as we could.
Obviously,we didn't get the same picture as Dervla and she doesn't wear rose tinted specs all the time but I did feel her own point of view slightly distorting.
What's wrong with people wanting to be able to afford treats for their children and to make their own lives slightly easier?

In order to round out her picture,she has lifted entire chunks from history books where a footnote would have sufficed so I simply started skipping the history pages.The book contains a comprehensive bibliography for reference.
I think Dervla is at her best where she records her encounters with her honesty and idiosyncratic viewpoint.
She paints a unique picture of an island with an uncertain future.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Island that Dared, 18 July 2011
This review is from: The Island That Dared: Journeys in Cuba (Paperback)
Waking and shaking inside info on Cuba that we never seem to have heard about truthfully.
Dervla at her very best .
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Island That Dared - Journeys in Cuba, 7 Mar 2009
By 
This is a uniquely insightful book. Dervla Murphy's bravery, commitment, and personality enable her to form an intimate engagement with Cuba and its people in ways that very few travellers to that country could meaningfully achieve. The book is also impeccably researched and gives a rich history of Cuba's political, social and cultural contexts. Recently returned from a visit to Cuba, Dervla Murphy's writing was a gift of interpretation that illuminated everything I had observed but had been unable to properly understand while I was there. It made me want to go back there straight away. Whether or not a reader has a prior interest in Cuba, this is a wonderful read, and the Cuban 'experiment' becomes even more interesting and relevant in light of the current global economic crisis.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a revelation, 10 April 2013
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This review is from: The Island That Dared: Journeys in Cuba (Paperback)
Just back from my journey to Cuba, and this is fascinating - very well documented, as well as being full of personal insights and very readable - highly recommended!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great woman, great history of modern Cuba, 10 Mar 2010
By 
S. M. Smith "NeverHere" (Middlesbrough, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Island That Dared: Journeys in Cuba (Paperback)
I have now read several of Derlva's books, so am well used to her writing style. Factually, this is a comprehensive history of modern Cuba, mixed with a personal travelogue and a great passion for her subject matter. If you are interested in delving into pre and post revolution Cuba, then this book will give you all the facts you know, whilst painting a picture of the geography and culture of this fascinating island and it's stoical people. My only criticism is that it is a little laboured in parts, but the length of the book is worth the journey of understanding, especially if you have visited Havana or plan to tour the island. Those visitors that choose only to see Varadero get a distorted view of Cuban life.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An informative read, 8 Oct 2009
By 
I visited Cuba in 2008 with a Fairtrade organisation and found it a fascinating place. I only wish I had read this book beforehand as it is so informative. There is plenty of the trademark Dervla Murphy wandering about on her own and bumping into people who provide insights into the contradictions inherent in Cuban society. For me there was a new twist in that daughter Rachel appears complete with grandchildren for part of the book. Dervla Murphy provides succinct and even handed accounts of Cuba's history and gives credit for its enormous achievements. She shows understanding of the less attractive elements explaining how much of this has been in defence of continued harrassment and attack from the USA, without excusing the less defensible. She provides detailed accounts of the US interference. She engages with Fidelistas and the Anti- Castro factions within and without Cuba when she visits Miami. All in all a worthwhile and engaging read from this wonderful author.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The incredible iron woman, 15 Feb 2013
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I admire Dervla Murphy a lot. She is an amazing woman who can withstand incredible hardships. But I would have found this book difficult to finish, if it wasn't for the fact that I am about to head off for Cuba. I wanted to understand more about their culture and their history, but Dervla served up too much ideological theory for me! And whilst I agree with many of her ideals, and admire her tenacity in sticking to them, Dervla can be slightly tedious.
I definitely enjoyed the section of the book with the trio more. The trio provided a light heartedness that can be missing in Dervla's outlook.
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The Island That Dared: Journeys in Cuba
The Island That Dared: Journeys in Cuba by Dervla Murphy (Paperback - 3 Jan 2010)
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