... perceptive and keenly observant ... In his thoroughly researched and reported book, replete with human detail and probing insight, DePalma...renders a Cuba few tourists will ever see. He burrows deep into one enclave of Havana ... Although his is an admirable feat of journalism, a remarkably revealing glimpse into the world of a muzzled yet irrepressibly ebullient neighbor, a reader looking for delightfully original turns of phrase is not likely to find them here ... All the same, you won’t forget these people soon, and you are bound to emerge from DePalma’s bighearted account with a deeper understanding of a storied island. Devoid of bias or facile judgments, The Cubans is filled with a simple human tenderness that is rare in these politically charged times.
... DePalma vividly depicts the lives of several families in modern Cuba. DePalma’s writing is evocative and detailed, and the reader feels as though they are walking alongside the people whose aspirations and dreams he so poignantly highlights. The country comes alive with each sentence, and the end result is an homage to Cuba and the Cuban people that is both heartbreaking and hopeful.
... [a] remarkable book ... Mr. DePalma anchors all of the historical touchpoints in the powerful stories of the people we meet ... Some of the most harrowing stories take place during the so-called special period of the ’90s, when the Soviet Union fell and its subsidies to Cuba vanished ... Cary, Lili, Jorge, and the others have risked a great deal to share their stories. Flipping through the many dog-eared pages of my copy of this book, I wondered: What was in it for them? I decided, finally, that they simply wanted to be heard.
The result of [DePalma's] clear-eyed affection for this midsized communist island is a deeply reported if somewhat rambling account of Cuba’s bittersweet realities. He has a deep feeling for the place and I suspect the project was hatched before Donald Trump dashed hopes of US détente and, with that, the waves of American tourists who might have visited and found through DePalma’s book a deeper understanding of the Cubans buzzing around them ... DePalma leaves it to the reader to draw their own political conclusions.
DePalma opens up these lives, following spouses, children and colleagues, showing the determination and ingenuity with which Cubans have overcome material hardship and the rigors of their own government ... The 1990s...Cubans were reduced to eating fried grapefruit peel and, if DePalma is to be believed (which, in this instance, I do not), cut-up blankets in tomato sauce ... While reading his book, one wished DePalma had asked those of his subjects who remembered pre-revolutionary Cuba how the two dispensations compared. Certainly, under communism, speech and the media are policed and travel out of the country is tightly controlled. On the other hand, as he acknowledges, education and medical care have improved for ordinary people, even as a punitive United States has crippled the country’s economy.
Many Americans have lived so long with the Cuban revolution and its aftermath that their impression of the Cuban people forms little but a political stereotype, quite divorced from the island nation’s present-day realities. Journalist DePalma...sets the record straight ... As DePalma sees it, Cubans survive a maximum of prohibitions with a minimum of inhibitions. A bracing insight into human perseverance.
... a sensitive portrait ... In impressively specific detail, DePalma captures the suffering and resilience of ordinary Cubans caught between the political posturing of their government and the U.S. Readers will savor this intimate, eye-opening account.
An intimate history ... DePalma’s fictionlike narrative moves thematically (Realization, Reconciliation, etc.), and the author is especially good at revealing the stunning adaptability of a people thwarted at seemingly every turn. An obvious labor of love, years in the making, featuring meticulous research and an elegant narrative style.