Reads like a novel — it’s a fascinating page-turner that captures 'history’s most unlikely revolution' in all its wild absurdity ... Perrottet provides enough context for the reader to understand what came before the revolution, but doesn’t get too bogged down in history ... Perrottet does an excellent job capturing the absurdities that came with the revolution ... Interesting times require interesting authors to do them justice, and Perrottet proves himself more than up to the job. Cuba Libre! brings history to life with thorough research and wildly addictive writing.
Born in Australia and based in New York, Perrottet ... bucks the current nonfiction trend in which authors repeatedly insert themselves into their narratives. His lively, gossipy account steps back and allows the characters to speak for themselves, be they icons like Che or under-discussed figures like Joel Iglesias. War histories always risk becoming tiring catalogs of names, dates, and sites. Instead, Perrottet’s juicy jungle opera unfurls briskly, conjuring for the reader a sense of how the rebel victory was won. Avoiding the hagiographical impulses of other historians, Perrottet’s tale remains grounded in the crude phenomenological texture of everyday life in the Sierra ... Humor abounds throughout the book too ... The account of women’s roles in the rebellion is perhaps the most exciting thread of the book ... A lingering puzzle in Perrottet’s narrative is how so much early promise, goodwill, and pro-revolution fanfare could eventually evaporate, easing Cuba into the Soviet bloc.
... well-researched ... Perrottet tells stories: good ones ... Read this entertaining book, but don’t be beguiled by its supposed innocence. Resistance to humiliation, driven by historical awareness and dignity, against impossible odds, is not improbable. Its explanation would be the more useful story. That story is absent from this book and, worse, not known to be.
Perrottet’s access to written and oral records provides for a rare achievement in the corpus of Cuba’s revolutionary literature, with the remarkable epilog recounting the postrevolutionary lives of the major players ... An excellent new entry on the subject, with a memorable opening line and highly enjoyable chapters. If you read only one recent book on Cuba, have it be this delightful popular history.
Perrottet’s history excels in putting a human face on the fighters. Fidel was at turns moody and petulant, and his brother Raul sometimes overreached. But the revolution’s real stars were the smart and strong women who acted as spies, couriers, logistical experts, and ultimately as the bravest, fiercest, and most indispensable combatants.
Fast-paced and highly entertaining ... Perrottet spotlights the bright hopes that propelled the revolution and the herculean effort that enabled a ragtag band to defeat a dictator’s army of 40,000 in just over two years.