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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Go to Cuba...
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...
Published on 11 July 2012 by Amazon Customer

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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cuba Holiday
This was a book that would I hoped prepare me for a holiday in Cuba. I had heard conflicting reports from friends about how fascinating and exotic it was although very poor. Peter Millar's book was very graphic and also very depressing. I am sure he was aiming to give one a real depiction of how life is for the rural and ordinary Cubans but there was no upside at all...
Published 8 months ago by andree


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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Go to Cuba..., 11 July 2012
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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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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. This is a country which once had a proud national railway, sugar cane plantations that seemed to feed the world (and mainly supplied their pals the Russians when Communism was flourishing) and a health care system that is free to everyone - but oftentimes the medication you might need simply isn't available. Mango juice and cigars galore; but fancy a bit more than the staple of Arroz Moros Y Cristianos (Black Beans with Rice)? Then, well, you either have to fork out (pardon the pun) and trade in CUCs, or black market your way to something a bit more scintillating. 'Meals in Cuba are seen as a necessity...' writes the author and he seems to spend his time careening between undercooked pork and overcooked fish and beef, with, of course the ubiquitous black beans and rice. "Cuba's gastronomic culture remains that of America circa 1959 when convenience food was considered the height of new age sophistication".

The hospitable locals all seem to take the rickety economy and lifestyle in their stride, indeed with great aplomb in the face of adversity it would seem, although always on the look-out to garner some CUCs or share a beer that is only available to foreigners. Cuba has a truly aspirational culture! And of course, the thread of music permeates the journey, a genre that has assimilated strands from many different cultures to make it what it is today.

Peter sees many parallels between his stint as a correspondent in Eastern Europe (pre 1989), the Balkan Wars and what he observes now: "There are whole swathes of central Cuba that more than anything resemble the aftermath of war, the general state of disrepair worn down and denigrated by the tropical climate". He captures the crumbling infrastructure depressingly well.

The book is so well written and peppered with interesting facts, which can only serve to enhance the reader's appreciation of this exhilarating, yet extremely frustrating journey. Explore Daiquiri (yes, it's a place as well as a cocktail) and observe the enclave that is Guanatamo at the southern tip of the island, whilst humming the melodic tune of Guantanamera (yes, that is originally a Cuban tune). Learn that 98% of the population can read (which beats many Western countries!) but understand that the Cubans are not free to read literature of their choice. Find out how Che got his name and discover more about the Hershey (chocolate) village, which mirrored what Bourneville was doing in the UK.

The cover (I cannot not mention it) absolutely reflects the content of the book, perfect choice from publishers Arcadia, with colour, vibrance, a hulking train, a balanced composition and of course, Che crowning the title.

This book is a true revelation. And as such one can overlook the proliferation of odd spelling errors that began to appear in our copy from the halfway point (different proofreader perhaps?), where one had to contend with 'or' when it should have been 'of', or where lack of commas made a sentence hard-going; or where (heaven forbid, but it happened in our copy) 'their' was used instead of 'there'. Plus there is an incidence on the train when the author is pee'ed on by a chicken. Er not, chickens can't pee, they can only poo out their pee (if you get my drift) - but the subject of chickens' digestive systems is perhaps for someone else to pick up elsewhere... If you are heading to Cuba this will serve as your guide! (You could even possibly ditch the guidebook! No, I don't mean it but you sure glean some insider information from this great travelogue that you probably wouldn't find in a typical guidebook). Vale! Felices viajes (of course this is bon voyage in Castilian Spanish, it will probably be very different in Cuban!)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cuba In The Raw, 12 Nov 2012
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If you thought Cuba was an island paradise, think again. Millar's book is the true picture of a poor country, reminiscent of a seventies' Russia, where its people are struggling to cope with a crumbling infrastructure, rationing and lack of the basic necessities which we take for granted. No, I'm not talking about luxuries, I mean decent soap, toothpaste and toilet seats to name a few. I know. I've been there, travelled around and stayed with some of the poorest families in the western world.
However, it's not all doom and gloom. Each chapter is liberally spiced with humour and a hook at the end to entice you to read on and find out how Millar survived in one of the world's last remaining communist regimes.
Behind the decrepit facades he finds the faded glamour of a past, fifties' cars and a way of life which is set to vanish forever as the twenty-first century progresses.
This nation is poor, but proud and reality a million miles away from the cosy environment of these holiday complexes.
'Slow Train To Guantanamo' is a must-read
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slow Train to Guantanamo, 17 Oct 2012
By 
Irene Stirton "Scottie" (Edinburgh) - See all my reviews
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I heard Peter Miller speak at the Edinburgh Book Festival and was enthused to read his book - it is as good as his talk. He has an excellent way of describing people and events which is at once amusing and insightful. He reached parts of Cuba that the ordinary traveller (like myself) does not reach. He does not condone or condemn the regime but points out its strengths and weaknesses through the conversations of ordinary (and extraordinary) people he meets along the way.
The book was only, at that time, available electronically. Maybe it is now in paperback.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting perspective on cuba, 1 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Slow Train to Guantanamo: A Rail Odyssey Through Cuba in the Last Days of the Castros (Kindle Edition)
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
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good guide to cuba, 10 Nov 2013
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An excellent review of Cuban life. Honest and humorous. An enjoyable undemanding read. More than a travel guide, well written
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5.0 out of 5 stars Cuba is Cuba., 5 Nov 2013
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We are due to spend a few weeks in Cuba early next year. Peter Millar gave a wonderful feel for the country, both the joys and the hardships of the place. We are now more prepared for our visit. A book well worth reading.
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4.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable read, 16 July 2014
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This review is from: Slow Train to Guantanamo: A Rail Odyssey Through Cuba in the Last Days of the Castros (Kindle Edition)
Very good read .I enjoyed it as most of the places described are accurate. And the people are very friendly apart from immigration department.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the best contemporary account of Cuba you will find., 4 Nov 2013
By 
Brian Mcmaster (South Padre Island, Texas) - See all my reviews
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This is one of the best reads I have had all year. Peter Millar's journey through Cuba by train stands out among contemporary travel and history books as an account which really opens the window on its subject in a refreshing way, that suddenly makes modern Cuba understandable. The author, who has spent many years as a journalist in eastern Europe, is uniquely qualified to describe how modern (or not so modern) Cuba became the way it is. Millar's breadth of historical facts and anecdotes is impressive, yet the book is remarkably free of judgement. The facts and the local color speak for themselves, and the reader is allowed to draw his or her own conclusions as you go. I certainly do not have the energy anymore to take on the Cuban railway system, but I have to admit that reading about Peter Millar doing it is a lot of fun. The reviewer on the book's back cover says, `This is a journey everyone will want to read about - but no one in their right mind would want to follow.' He has got that right. Do not even think about going to Cuba without first reading this important and at times very funny briefing. Even Fidel and Raul will want to read it. And they certainly need to.
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