Fidel’s Favorite Book and Why You Should Read It

The Cuban revolutionary had an eclectic reading taste. But what was his favorite book?

While Fidel Castro is best recognized as a revolutionary political leader, the former Cuban president had another serious passion — reading.

IN DEPTH: Fidel: A Revolutionary Life

Following the failed attack on the Moncada Barracks in 1952, Fidel was sent to a prison north of Santiago. It was here that the leader of the Cuban Revolution immersed himself in books, avidly reading all genres — from philosophy to history and the great literary masterpieces.

This period proved formative in finessing his political ideology and outlook on the modern Cuban state.

Trapped in a gloomy cell, Fidel found inspiration in the works of Freud, Kant, Shakespeare, Munthe, Maugham and Dostoyevsky. But while the Comandante accredits many authors for expanding his political education, there was another book that deeply moved Fidel — “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” by Ernest Hemingway.

The novel is told through the perspective of Robert Jordan, a young U.S. guerrilla in the Spanish Civil War. Fighting for the Republicans against the fascists, Jordan meets Spanish fighter Maria and together they plan an attack against an enemy transport route.

It is a story of resistance, solidarity and the struggle for justice — themes that resounded with Fidel Castro and would later inspire the Cuban Revolution.

The title is taken from the John Donne poem “No Man Is an Island,” which also speaks to human camaraderie.

In the poem, Donne writes, “any man's death diminishes me, / because I am involved in mankind.”

RELATED: Cuba Bids Farewell to Fidel: Live Updates

These sentiments are echoed throughout “For Whom the Bell Tolls.”

In the book, a character asks “For what are we born if not to aid one another?” and later states, “I am thee and thou art me and all of one is the other.”

As well as appealing to Fidel Castro’s humanism, he also saw in “For Whom the Bell Tolls” lessons on how to stage guerrilla warfare.

Speaking in a 1975 interview with U.S. writers Kirby Jones and Frank Mankiewicz, Fidel revealed that “Of U.S. authors, Hemingway is one of my favorites."

“I read ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ when I was a student … Hemingway spoke about the rear-guard of a guerrilla group fighting against a conventional army … The novel was one of the works that helped me devise strategies to fight against Batista’s army.”

As the world prepares to pay their final respects to Fidel Saturday, the words of the Cuban leader’s favorite book appear more pertinent than ever:

“If we win here we will win everywhere. The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for and I hate very much to leave it.”

  • Published in Culture

Cultural Center Pabellon Cuba, A Space for Books in Havana

Havana, Jan 26 (Prensa Latina) The cultural center Pabellon Cuba, in one of the most central streets in this capital, will be the second venue to the International Book Fair (IBF), a place especially devoted to young people, according to reports today.

According to Provincial Book Center Director Dulce Maria Dominguez, more than 700 literary new works will be for sale for the first time at Pabellon Cuba, starting from February 19, and there will be auctions of used and rare books.

There will be new printings of books by great Cuban writers, such as 'Paradiso,' by Jose Lezama Lima and 'Versions,' by Eliseo Diego, she said.

As usual in the IBF, there will be presentations of sought-after books at the central area of Pabellon Cuba and in the afternoons, there nwill be concerts and other artistic programs, she explained.

The cultural center La Pergola will be a space for Cuban music by singer-songwriters and jazz, besides gatherings with poets and other musicians.

This time, the IBF will be dedicated to Armando Hart Davalos, revolutionary writer that established guidelines in the development of the country, said Dominguez. Thus, several books by that author will be sold during the event.

There will be several activities for Canada, the honorary guest country, including the exhibition of a cycle of films produced in that country, such as 'Blindness,' 'Copenhagen' and 'Popeye's Voyage.'

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Blockade Prevents Canadian Entity to Buy Book on Fidel Castro

French intellectual, Salim Lamrani, denounced today that his latest book ''Fidel Castro, heroe de los desheredados,'' could not be bought by a Canadian organization due to the U.S. blockade against Cuba.

In an article sent to Prensa Latina News Agency and published on internet, the writer explained that the Friends of Cuba Association in Quebec (AQAC, with acronyms in French language) tried to buy a dozen copies for disseminating them in Canada, but the online payment platform, Paypal, rejected the operation.

That entity, based in the United States, responded to the AQAC that the transaction was rejected after 'detecting a risk associated with the payment,' the article said.

Paypal also requested to clarify 'with a detailed and comprehensive explanation' the nature of the product, as well as the presence there of the word 'Cuba.'

'In short, AQAC has been a victim of the extraterritorial application of the U.S. economic sanctions against Cuba,' Lamrani said. The fact shows the 'absurd and illegal nature' of those restrictions.

Despite the statements made by American President, Barack Obama, in favor of lifting the blockade, 'this has been still applied relentlessly on the Cuban people,' the university professor said.

The siege 'also affect international trade in Cuba with the rest of the world because of its extraterritorial nature,' he added.

The book 'Fidel Castro, heroe de los desheredados' was released in late August on occasion of the 90th birthday of the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, and recently presented at the French Feast of L'Humanite.

In his work, Lamrani defined the political as L'Humanite architect of the Cuban national sovereignty, the social reformer in favor of the most humble persons and 'the internationalist who has always extended a generous hand to the peoples in need of the planet.' 

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Twenty-five titles by and about Fidel launched

The launching of 25 titles by and about Fidel, in honor of his upcoming 90th birthday, was described by Zuleica Romay Guerra, as a gift from the Cuban people, during the closing in Santiago of the country’s 25th International Book Fair, which began in Havana in February.

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Cuban universities to promote reading projects

Members of a project called "Leer Todos", (Everyone Reads), of the University of Cienfuegos will make up a network of university this school year to promote reading aimed at looking to for ways to increase the healthy and educational habit.

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