My Life by Fidek Castro
I read this book because I was planning to go to Cuba during my last summer break after college. Cuba was probably one of the most famous American countries. It is known for being a communist country right next to the US and I wanted to know how it became like that.
The book was in chronological order and in a conversational format. It started from the Fidel’s childhood. His father is a landlord who has always been nice to people renting their land. Fidel was pretty rebellious as a kid. He forced his way out of a boring boarding “school” when he could not study the knowledge he wanted. He became kind of famous in college. He spent most of his time reading and studying politics and he was of course influenced by Marx’s writing. He talked in length about how he only sleeps for 4-5 hours per day. I feel like a lot of famous person could do that. I wish I could as well.
Anyway he got quite famous so the government found it hard to arrest him. He then developed and trained his own guerrilla group with only 20 people. He spent a lot of his time practicing gun skills. It’s kind of amazing how one can start a revolution with only 20 people. He got caught once but was spared due to the mercy of an official. After the revolution succeeded the book got quite political and full of propaganda – which is the major reason I did not finish this book. The only interesting part is how he felt angry that Cuba became like a piece to be traded between two big countries during the Cuban missile crisis. The US and the Soviets made their aggrement without Cuba getting involved so he was pretty pissed about that.
I don’t think Castro realized that he did anything wrong. In his mind all the suffering were caused by the US blockading Cuba. Cuba would do just fine if it was not blockaded. From what I’ve seen in Cuba, this was only partially true. I say partial because people’s life is controlled too much by arbitrary central government decisions. It is true because who knows what’s going to happen if US never blockaded Cuba. It wouldn’t be as poor as it is now. The poverty is indeed caused partially by the blockade. Everything they need comes from Russia, China, or Europe. A driver said to me that he was ordering car pieces from Russia which will arrive months later. Those kind of friction will definitely slow an economy down, but Cuba still considerably worse than other American countries.
Another interesting point is that Cuba is both Christian and Communist at the same time. It has its own culture that is unlike a typical communists. Unfortunately when I travel to Cuba I only see part of its culture. Some part of it is poor, where people seems to loose the incentives to work. Other parts, it is pro-western. Cuba is known for its doctors, but being a doctor is actually easy compared to say study English. Engineering is also a popular field as far as I remember. Anyway Cuba has an interesting history and most of its contemporary history is influenced by Fidel Castro. And from this book, I see through the dictator’s mind.