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Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba: The Biography of a Causeby Tom Gjelten
Synopses & Reviews
A unique history of Cuba, captured in the life and times of the famous rum dynasty
The Bacardis of Cuba, builders of a rum distillery and a worldwide brand, came of age with their nation and helped define what it meant to be Cuban. Across five generations, the Bacardi family has held fast to its Cuban identity, even in exile from the country for whose freedom they once fought. Now National Public Radio correspondent Tom Gjelten tells the dramatic story of one family, its business, and its nation, a 150-year tale with the sweep and power of an epic.
The Bacardi clan--patriots and bon vivants, entrepreneurs and intellectuals--provided an example of business and civic leadership in its homeland for nearly a century. From the fight for Cuban independence from Spain in the 1860s to the rise of Fidel Castro and beyond, there is no chapter in Cuban history in which the Bacardis have not played a role. In chronicling the saga of this remarkable family and the company that bears its name, Tom Gjelten describes the intersection of business and power, family and politics, community and exile.
"The commonplace view of Cuba's prerevolutionary business establishment as a corrupt kleptocracy is revised in this intriguing history of the Bacardi rum company and its involvement in Cuban politics. NPR correspondent Gjelten (Sarajevo Daily) paints the 146-year-old distiller, once an icon of Cuban industry, as a model corporate citizen — efficient, innovative, socially responsible and union-tolerant. Its leaders were pillars of nationalist politics, he contends: company president Emilio Bacardi was a leader of Cuba's rebellion against Spain, and in the 1950s CEO Jos Bosch helped fund Castro's insurrection. (After Castro nationalized Bacardi's Cuban holdings, Bosch started funding anti-Castro exiles.) Bacardi's image as Cuban-nationalism-in-a-bottle becomes farcical when the company, now a multinational behemoth, fights an absurd court battle with Cuba's state rum company over the 'Havana Club' trademark. But Gjelten's account of a liberal, progressive Cuban business clan complicates and enriches the conventional picture of a society torn between right and left dictatorships. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
This unique history of Cuba is captured in the life and times of the famous rum dynasty. In chronicling the saga of the remarkable Bacardi family, Gjelten describes the intersection of business and power, family and politics, community and exile. b&w photo inserts.
In this widely hailed book, NPR correspondent Tom Gjelten fuses the story of the Bacardi family and their famous rum business with Cuba's tumultuous experience over the last 150 years to produce a deeply entertaining historical narrative. The company Facundo Bacardi launched in Cuba in 1862 brought worldwide fame to the island, and in the decades that followed his Bacardi descendants participated in every aspect of Cuban life. With his intimate account of their struggles and adventures across five generations, Gjelten brings to life the larger story of Cuba's fight for freedom, its tortured relationship with America, the rise of Fidel Castro, and the violent division of the Cuban nation.
En 1862, Facundo Bacardí apostó por crear en Cuba una pequeña destilería de ron, una bebida que hasta entonces solo consumían marineros y obreros. Pronto el ron Bacardí se convertiría en la bebida favorita de la isla y quedaría ligado a la identidad cubana.
Recorriendo la historia de la familia Bacardí, que siempre ha estado en primer plano en todos los grandes acontecimientos de la historia de Cuba ––desde la Independencia hasta el actual embargo pasando por la Revolución y Bahía de Cochinos–– Tom Gjelten ha escrito una épica narrativa que explica la Cuba moderna, sus tormentosas relaciones con Estados Unidos, la ascensión de Fidel Castro —de la que se ofrece una perspective hasta ahora desconocida— y la violenta división que sufre la nación cubana desde entonces.
About the Author
Tom Gjelten is a veteran correspondent for National Public Radio on international issues and a regular panelist on the PBS program Washington Week. His reporting from Bosnia won him George Polk and Robert F. Kennedy awards. He is the author of Sarajevo Daily: A City and Its Newspaper Under Siege. He lives in Arlington, Virginia, with his family.
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