Martinez-Fernandez, Luis, D.H. Figueredo, Louis A. Parez, Jr., and Luis Gonzalez, eds. Encyclopedia of Cuba: People, History, Culture. 2 vols. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2003. xxix + 688 pp. Cloth, $174.95.
This is a well-organized and reader-friendly opus, very useful for Cubanists and all who are interested in Cuba. The table of contents indicates the division of the encyclopedia into a dozen chapters (i.e., geography, history, economy, literature) and fifteen appendices. There is also an alphabetical "List of Entries" that runs 14 1/2 pages and includes page numbers; this is in addition to the index.
Of course, Fidel Castro is prominent in this work. Castro was born in 1926 in Biran in Holguin province, one of seven children of a well-to-do landowner. He was educated in the prestigious Colegio Belen and then studied law, graduating in 1950. He organized the unsuccessful attack on the Moncada army barracks on July 26, 1953, in the move against President Batista. Castro and his followers were sentenced to twenty years in prison. He served two years on the Isle of Pines (today the Island of Youth) and then lived in exile in Mexico. In 1956, Castro sailed on the boat Granma to Oriente in eastern Cuba under the banner of the July 26 Movement. The movement gained supporters in cities and the countryside. By 1958, Batista fled the country; on January 8, 1959, Castro entered Havana. He became premier, secretary of the Communist party in 1975, and president in 1976. What followed the Castro takeover were executions of enemies of the revolution as well as agrarian reform, economic upheaval, and mass exodus to places like Florida. After an oil crisis, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower broke off diplomatic relations in 1961. That same year the Bay of Pigs invasion occurred. A year later, the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred. The encyclopedia discusses all of these events along with the Mariel boatlift and other important political milestones. Castro's brother Raul has an entry also, but there is no information about his other siblings, nor about Fidelito, Castro's son from his brief marriage in the early 1950s.
Entertainment is a well-represented element, starting with Desi Arnaz, a television pioneer who revolutionized television by introducing live audiences to programs, creating the three-camera technique, and encouraging...