The result of 18 years’ research at national archives and presidential libraries in Kansas, Maryland, Texas, and Massachusetts, here is the story of the making and unmaking of a gangster state in Cuba. In the early 1930s, mobster Meyer Lansky sowed the seeds of gangsterismo when he won Cuban strongman Fulgencio Batista’s support for a mutually beneficial arrangement: the North American Mafia were to share the profits from a future colony of casinos, hotels, and nightclubs with Batista, his inner circle, and senior Cuban Army and police officers. In return, Cuban authorities allowed the Mafia to operate its establishments without interference. Over the next twenty-five years, a gangster state took root in Cuba as Batista, other corrupt Cuban politicians, and senior Cuban army and police officers got rich. All was going swimmingly until a handful of revolutionaries upended the neat arrangement: And the CIA, Cuban counterrevolutionaries, and the Mafia joined forces to attempt the overthrow of Castro.
Gangsterismo is unique in the literature on Cuba, and establishes for the first time the integral, extensive role of mobsters in the Cuban exile movement. The narrative unfolds against a broader historical backdrop of which it was a part: The confrontation between the United States and the Cuban revolution, which turned Cuba into one of the most perilous battlegrounds of the Cold War.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By wordparty on 14-09-15
Terrific book. Misleading title.
This is a fascinating, in depth look at the Cuban revolution and its effects in the mid 20th. century. It deals comprehensively with the the guerrilla war, the Bay of Pigs, the missile crisis, the Kennedys, Kruschev, the CIA and its relations with the mafia, the many assassination plots on Castro, the attacks by the exiled Cubans, the hypocrisy of politics, and more and more and more.
The account of the build up and culmination of the missile crisis is truly gripping, and there are intriguing stories of minor characters - such as Jack Ruby - and major ones such as the dictator Battista and his greed and tyranny.
The book's title is very odd though. Gangsterismo is certainly one theme, but I wouldn't call it the major one. The Mafia features, as does its influence in pre-revolutionary Cuba and its later involvement in trying to kill Castro, but this is not a book primarily about The Mob. It is about the drama and complex politics surrounding the revolution - and how close to the apocalypse we came...
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
By Amazon Customer on 12-04-18
Mentions the influence of the mafia at the beginning of the book but then the next 70% of the book is US/Cuban/Soviet politics with no mention of the mafia until shoe-horned in a final paragraph at the end.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Ryan Pettengill on 27-09-17
Fascinating study but more politically-focused that I imagined. It makes a meaningful contribution to the study of organized crime even if the Mafia's role gets lost at times.
By Steven R on 02-05-16
A well written, extremely well researched telling of the tale of Castro's Cuba and how it got to be his.