I was worried before I ordered this book... worried that it might just be a scissors and paste job, a collection of old Ebay postcards packaged up in a small slim and overpriced volume.
I was surprised and delighted to receive a large, thick and lavishly presented coffee table style volume. In colour throughout the book is a collection of photographs, tourist flyers, promotional materials, and family pictures bonded together with an easy and fast flowing text telling the story of Havana's years as America's exotic playground.
I was lucky enough to live and work in Havana during most of the '90's and resided in the Vedado district where so many of the locations pictured here remain in a dilapidated condition. Many have now been 'restored' for the tourists of today. Sloppy Joe's Bar, close to the Sevilla Hotel, and featured several times in the book I recall as a shell. I poked my camera through the closed up downstairs window to reveal a gutted shell, the famous wooden bar stripped to make chicken sheds, the upper floor now a 'solario', the large rooms divided and subdivided again to house a few of the thousands who flocked to Havana following the 1959 revolution.
So, even though I never saw Havana during what was(for some) the golden age, this remarkable book still brought back memories for me.
A fantastic book! Contains plenty of pictures of the current (2007) and past. Includes many images of buildings no longer with us - obviously to get your hands on now. The author has a good knowledge of what is pictured within.
What i particulary like are the images of past, pre-revolution hotel postcards, advertisements and nightclubs of old. The "then and now" photo comparisons are excellent - just a shame there aren't more of them. Do what i did when I was last in Havana and try to take a few photos of the same buildings from a similar location so comparisons can be made since these were taken.
The drawback to this book is that the author is seemingly very much a fan of the pre-castro era. I have a great interest in this time and think it's a shame some of the sights of the past are no longer, but i sit very much on the side of the Castro Brothers - the post-revolution era has been, and will continue to be, better for the future of Cubans.
My daughter has a real passon for art and Cuba, and the book was bought as a present for her,she was absolutely delighted with it, especially the vivid pictures of days gone by depicted throughout the book.She plans to visit some of the places in the book to see what if any changes have taken place excellent!