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The Island That Dared: Journeys in Cuba Paperback – 3 Jan 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Eland Publishing Ltd (3 Jan. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 190601146X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906011468
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 13.3 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 197,144 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

In her latest book the tireless Dervla Murphy, still travelling rough in her late seventies, sets out to get to grips with Cuba a place of impulsive friendship and impenetrable bureaucracy. --Telegraph.co.uk<br /><br />There has always been a raw energy about her work that sets her apart from some of her paler contemporaries. Now in her mid-70s, she has written at least 25 books but, judging by this volume she's in no danger of mellowing ... Fierce, highly moral and uncompromising, this is classic Murphy. In an often anodyne world, she remains an original...she is a refreshingly defiant voice, straight-talking and no-nonsense. --Financial Times, November 2008

The three journeys in her latest book are explorations of [Cuba's] change... disquisitions on homophobia, attitudes to AIDS and much else, indicates that at 77, Murphy s status as one of our most respected travel writers shows no sign of weakening. Eland seems a natural home for her. --Geographical, December 2008 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: 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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Format: Paperback
I did write a review and it disappeared and don't have time to write another . It was long but full of praise and the best book I have read in Years
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By Marand TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 6 Oct. 2010
Format: Hardcover
I have read a number of Dervla Murphy's books and, until now, I have always enjoyed them. I had expected a travel book, but what I found was a strange mixture of travelogue and pseudo-political analysis. It is important in a travelogue to put things in their political context but I think the travel element here was subsumed beneath the politics.

The book recounts three journeys to Cuba which took place over a couple of years, the first with her daughter and grandchildren, the second and third journeying solo. I have to say that I found the writing about the first journey very dull. I carried on reading in the hope that once freed of the 'family holiday' element the writing would pick up in pace and interest. Unfortunately for me it didn't. What did pick up was the level of political 'analysis' - although analysis is not really the right word for the polemical pro-Castro line. Frankly it read as pro-Castro propaganda, hopelessly one-sided, unsophisticated sub-A-level standard political analysis (I say this having studied Politics & later International Relations at university level). I am no friend of the US as regards its foreign policy and would broadly be described as left-leaning. I agree also that Cuba has achieved some positive things (health provision and education among them) and isn't the bogeyman that many in the US think it is, part of the axis of Evil, but you cannot just ignore the problematic elements of Castroism or brush them off as easily as Murphy does.
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