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Havana: A Subtropical Delirium

Havana A Subtropical Delirium Award winning author Mark Kurlansky presents an insider s view of Havana the elegant tattered city he has come to know over than thirty years Part cultural history part travelogue with recipes his

  • Title: Havana: A Subtropical Delirium
  • Author: Mark Kurlansky
  • ISBN: 9781632863911
  • Page: 167
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Award winning author Mark Kurlansky presents an insider s view of Havana the elegant, tattered city he has come to know over than thirty years Part cultural history, part travelogue, with recipes, historic engravings, photographs, and Kurlansky s own pen and ink drawings throughout, Havana celebrates the city s singular music, literature, baseball, and food its fivAward winning author Mark Kurlansky presents an insider s view of Havana the elegant, tattered city he has come to know over than thirty years Part cultural history, part travelogue, with recipes, historic engravings, photographs, and Kurlansky s own pen and ink drawings throughout, Havana celebrates the city s singular music, literature, baseball, and food its five centuries of outstanding, neglected architecture and its extraordinary blend of cultures.Like all great cities, Havana has a rich history that informs the vibrant place it is today from the native Taino to Columbus s landing, from Cuba s status as a U.S protectorate to Batista s dictatorship and Castro s revolution, from Soviet presence to the welcoming of capitalist tourism Havana is a place of extremes a beautifully restored colonial city whose cobblestone streets pass through areas that have not been painted or repaired since the revolution.Kurlansky shows Havana through the eyes of Cuban writers, such as Alejo Carpentier and Jos Mart , and foreigners, including Graham Greene and Hemingway He introduces us to Cuban baseball and its highly opinionated fans the city s music scene, alive with the rhythm of Son its culinary legacy Once the only country Americans couldn t visit, Cuba is now opening to us, as is Havana, not only by plane or boat but also through Mark Kurlansky s multilayered and electrifying portrait of the long elusive city.

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      Posted by:Mark Kurlansky
      Published :2019-010-07T17:33:54+00:00

    1 thought on “Havana: A Subtropical Delirium

    1. I have never been to Havana, the closest I have gotten is San Juan, Puerto Rico which I loved but which the author makes clear is a poor substitution for Havana. This was just enough of a biography of a city that has been remade several times over, though some things always stay the same the city has been through many upheavals. The Spanish, a pirate's paradise, the Americans and the mob, the storms that have ravaged the city, the fires set that have burned it down, but always it rises again.The [...]

    2. I've been to Cuba many times on holidays to warm my bones and get away from the cold Canadian winter for a few days. These were mostly resort vacations on Cuba's beautiful beaches. Quite a few years ago, a childhood friend and I were marking a common big birthday and we decided to spend a week in Havana, which was a different vacation altogether. We explored the neighbourhoods, we visited museums, monuments and the famed cemetery, we spent time on a beach with locals and we happened upon a huge [...]

    3. "Havana is not a city for people who are squeamish about sweat. Sweat is one of the many defining smells in redolent Havana and is a leitmotif in almost all Havana literature."If you are familiar with Kurlansky's other non-fiction, for instance Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World or Salt: A World History, imagine the same thorough look at a singular subject applied to the city of Havana. Mark Kurlansky has visited Cuba for decades, and has a great love for the city of Havana.He e [...]

    4. (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)Although I enjoyed Mark Kurlansky's newest nonfiction book Havana, I don't actually have a lot to say about it, simply because there's not much to it in the first place; not exactly a travel guide to this capital of Cuba, not exactly a history, and not exactly a memoir, it's instead a curious mix of them all, [...]

    5. I gave it a three, because I felt it was a bit uneven. Some parts were really good and some not so much. The book is a very broad overview of Cuba's history to current situation, with random facts through out. I'm going to Cuba next month, so it was a worthwhile read for me.

    6. With the normalization of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States, the easing of travel restrictions to the island, and the death of Fidel Castro last year, more Americans will have the opportunity to visit this gem of the Caribbean soon (assuming the Trump administration doesn't decide to muck it all up). But large numbers of Americans have not visited the island in over 50 years. So what will they experience when they arrive? This book, written by a former foreign correspondent [...]

    7. The book takes the reader thru the history of Havana by writing about its people, its architecture and its blend of cultures. Some of these are very different from the rest of Cuba. The author has been visiting Havana for over thirty years so has seen some of the changes. The book is short but was a quick easy read.

    8. Stroll along the shady streets of Havana with Mark Kurlansky, a most trustworthy and entertaining tour guide. Simply put, this is a beautifully written book, captivating from start to end. Kurlansky paints an indelible, wonderful portrait of a city and the Habaneros who have lived, thrived, struggled, and died there. So strike up a cigar, pour a few fingers of rum, and savor this book.

    9. What Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil did for Savannah and the Deep South, this does for Havana. Part history, part social commentary, with some minor adventures and snark thrown in, it serves as a very decent snapshot of an often misrepresented city.

    10. I’ve read this book twice within six weeks. First I read it before leaving for my trip to Cuba. Then I borrowed it again a couple of days ago, to refresh my memory before writing this review and I was immediately drawn into a second reading, recognizing things and places that I’d seen and kicking myself for the things I’d missed.Mark Kurlansky is an American writer who has spent over thirty years visiting Cuba, and so he writes from an American, rather than Cuban perspective. He is a proli [...]

    11. It was a fun read with lots of little quirky things thrown in. The history was interesting and Kurlansy did a good job of bringing it up to the current time. Since I was fortunate enough to visit there several years ago - mostly Havana - it brought back many memories of places I visited and people I met. A very different country from any other I have visited, with it's combination of Spanish, African, Indigenous, and European, Christian, Catholic, VooDoo, and probably many other beliefs and cult [...]

    12. I have never been to Havana, but since I live in "north Cuba" , aka south Florida, I have always been fascinated by Cuba and its culture. I found this to be a fascinating and enjoyable read. The author's writing style reads more like fiction than non-fiction. His books read like stories and not like dry, fact-filled textbook like reads that many non-fiction books tend to be. If an author can make me want to read about Cuba's fascination with baseball - a topic I have ZERO interest in ( when I sa [...]

    13. I enjoyed this compilation of history and culture. The author does a good job weaving together the details of Havana's history with the influence that had on its current way and state of being; and while his summary does leave me wanting to know more, his presentation of the highlights, so to speak, doesn't feel like too much of a skim. Rather, he tells you plenty for an interesting story.Having visited Havana myself a few years back (albeit briefly), I also appreciated the author's ability to b [...]

    14. A little bit of history,a little bit of cultural observation (music, food, religion, baseball), quite a bit of quotes from Cuban authors and others who have written about Havana,a couple of recipes,and very little politics which I thought was interesting because we're talkin about Cuba here.A fairly short and breezy account that is enjoyable to read. Some of the stories that the author related about events were different versions than I heard when I visited Cuba but that stands to reason with an [...]

    15. This was a good read. I haven't been to Cuba and had heard and read conflicting reports about what life is like there. Now I'm looking forward to PBS' Great Performances chapter on the music that Kurlansky tells us is everywhere in that fabled city. A lot of history is presented here and a lot about the culture and what it's like to be there. My only problem with it is that he insists "The Americans" have been trying to starve the Cuban people with the trade embargo. Cuba has huge tracts of arab [...]

    16. I adored this book. It's a very quick and lively read written with obvious affection for the city and people of Havana. I've never had any particular interest in Cuba or Havana aside from my general interest in geography (especially the geography of places I expect never to visit personally), but I came away from this book totally grateful, not just for Kurlansky's multi-layered social/cultural/political history of the city - infused with song lyrics and poetry, urban legends about Castro and He [...]

    17. I think the easiest way to describe this book is that it's essentially a biography of the city of Havana, Cuba. The author delves into many topics, such as the strong African influence on Cuban culture, the history of the founding of the city, restaurants, and the distinct sense of humor of Havana's inhabitants. I'm visiting Havana next month after more than a generation of Americans not really being allowed to go there, so I'm devouring all the English language information I can get. This book [...]

    18. Before reading this book, I knew almost nothing about Cuba. After reading it, I felt that I really got to know the history of Cuba and what it "feels" like to live in Cuba. The author did a masterful job describing the city through famous authors, artists, and music. It's a thoughtful and well researched book. I will read another book by this author. I liked his writing style. There are excellent reference materials in the back of the book. I plan to read one of the other books he recommended ab [...]

    19. Absolutely fascinating. I wasn't particularly interested in the subject, but really enjoy Kurlansky's (Koo-las-key, as they say in Havana) writing. He does not disappoint! Just one revelation after the other, from beginning to end, about this city of perpetual decay; it's people, it's redolence, it's ingenuity, it's politics, religions, obsessions, artists, martyrs, moguls, and mercenaries. Now I'm excessively interested in the subject and will definitely seek out more, in film, books, and art p [...]

    20. A lot of research went into this book, and there was a great deal of interesting information, of fascinating tidbits, between its covers.Unfortunately, these tidbits were presented in a scattershot manner that skipped from glimpses of life in Havana to drink recipes to Hemingway stories to history to street scenes to references to Cuban writers to descriptions of a decaying city without ever really capturing the heart of the city, the experience of it, what it is like to live there.So probably w [...]

    21. I didn't find it as compelling a read as Cod, or Salt. It felt a little lifeless and dry considering the subject matter. Kurlansky tells his reader throughout the book that Havana is vibrant, lively, full of conflicting cultural influences, but the writing doesn't illustrate these aspects of life in Havana. I learned a lot and I took notes for further reading and new music to explore, but I also had a hard time finding the will to read this book to the end. I was bored.

    22. Kurlansky does a great job of making history, which is often drab, palatable and enthralling. I couldn't put this book down, asking myself, "What aspect of Cuban culture will he mention next?" He certainly touched on a lot of important points. I especially appreciated the references to Cuban literature and works written on Havana - the book even has a short bibliography of works about Havana! I plan to revisit that in the near future to keep on reading.

    23. This is a good history/cultural guide to Havana. It was actually a pretty breezy read. It would be a great resource for someone who is traveling to Havana, or who has an interest in doing so, who wants to better understand Havana without necessarily diving into a dense history. The history/culture parts are kind of interwoven, but the flow makes sense. This is first time I've read Kurlansky and I enjoyed his writing!

    24. Kurlansky is an excellent writer. Each sentence has a clear purpose and is thoughtfully constructed. That makes this book a breezy delight to read. He also provides an accessible and brief overview of Habanero history. Yet, I am still not sure that his observations or the literature selected really paints an accurate portrait of the city. Black and white my work for film noir, but for a city like Havana one cannot help but to feel such simplicity is a great disservice.

    25. Having a Parent who lived in Cuba for a few short years before the revolution - this book was critical to filling some gaps in my understanding of the place. More, this book created a picture of the place with all of it's nuances, character, and idiosyncrasies laid in full view with historical references and provenance. If Cuba is a place you've ever wondered about, puzzled over, or romanticised, this is a read worth pursuing.

    26. I have only been to La Habana once, but I saw some of the same places so insightfully described in this book. He skirts lightly around the food shortages and dreadful housing but dwells on the wonderful spirit of the people. I wish I had read the book before I went to Cuba, but being there made his excellent descriptions even more valid. My strongest memory's is the ever present music and the great food.

    27. Książka pełna cytatów, odniesień do literatury czy muzyki kubańskiej, ale tez podająca przepisy tamtejszej kuchni, czy przytaczająca kawały polityczne. Dobrze napisana i w zwięzły sposób pokazująca historię i realia Hawany. Nie jestem jednak pewien czy ktoś kto nie miał wcześniej styczności z Hawaną i tamtejszą kulturą będzie w stanie wyłapać wszystkie smaczki.

    28. This is a great quick review of Havana's history, culture, language, food, cigars, architecture and more. It would be an excellent primer for your first trip to the city. I thoroughly enjoyed it on a weekend trip to Saipan recently. It'll stay on my bookshelf until I get my trip booked to Cuba! Then I'll read it again to help me plan my visit and further research.

    29. This is a potted history of Havana and a thoroughly good read. I very much enjoyed the sections on music and literature (the section on baseball less so) but especially in the Acknowledgements at the end : "My first thank-you goes to the people of Havana who for almost thirty-five years showed me nothing but warmth, humor, and hopitality while my country was trying to starve them."

    30. Despite the blurbs, this isn't really an examination of Havana literature, though there is a lot of that; it's more of an informal history history of the city, and by extension Cuba. Kurlansky clearly has a good deal of experience from many years in Havana. His style is as easy and readable as ever. Very educational and enjoyable.

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