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Reviews of "A Rebel in Cuba"

TITLE: A Rebel in Cuba: An American's Memoir
AUTHOR: Neill Macaulay
ISBN: 0965386422

DESCRIPTION: This is a reprint of the 1970 Quadrangle Books edition, with a new preface, notes, bibliography, and seven pages of photographs.

REVIEW: Adventure, commitment and final disillusionment give shape to this vividly detailed and revealing autobiographical narrative. Macaulay had just finished a tour of duty in Korea when he made contact with Fidel Castro's "Movement" in New York. Six weeks later he found himself in a rebel camp in the hills of western Cuba. Macaulay gives an engrossing picture of guerrilla operations in Pinar del Rio province–ambushes, raids, an attack on Las Pozas. His description of the triumphal entry of Castro's forces into Havana, after Batista's flight (January 1, 1959), and the mopping-up operations that followed, is one of the most authentic we have had. Publishers' Weekly, January 19, 1970.

REVIEW: In September 1958, the anti-Batista forces of Cuba's Pinar del Rio province were joined by a recently discharged U.S. Army infantry lieutenant who here has recorded his views and experiences from that date up to Cuba's socialization and his final departure in July 1960. While Macaulay is primarily concerned with actual events, he occasionally allows his feelings about the revolution to creep into the dialogue. For instance, he felt that the success of the revolution would be contingent upon the degree of support it received from and in turn gave to the long ignored rural groups. Both their economic station and disillusionment with "democratic" politicians would put them at odds with the middle class and with those concerned solely with achieving political freedom in post-Batista Cuba. Library Journal, March 1, 1970.

REVIEW: In this well-written, action-packed account, the author relates his personal experiences as an officer in one of Fidel Castro's guerrilla units. Mr. Macaulay has no political axe to grind. He tells candidly how the revolutionary movement arose and grew, how it was helped in the United States, why he joined up, the people he lived and fought with, of combat actions against the government's conventional forces, and why disillusionment followed Castro's victory. Army, December 1970.

REVIEW: An autobiographical account, by a trained soldier and historian, author of The Sandino Affair..., dealing with the Cuban realities of the period September 1958-March 1959, when Macaulay served as a member of Fidel Castro's Rebel Army. Macaulay does not flinch at describing scenes of hangings in the sierra in 1958 or scenes of execution in 1959. ("...He seemed dead, but I wasted no time in putting the automatic to his head. . . . It made a neat round hole.") .... Macaulay did not see Castro until January 1959, since his guerrilla assignment was to a group west of Havana, far from Castro's hideaway. He did, however, participate for a few months in the life of the capital after victory, and there witnessed the incidents leading to Castro's own brand of tyranny. Choice, July-August 1970.

REVIEW: "We each had a shot of cognac before lunch and beer with the meal: pan-fried steaks, rice and a salad.... Thus fortified, we proceeded to the cuartel to demand its surrender." But all was not beer and vittles for the young American as a Cuban soldier. Ole! For this thriller, if sadistic at times. Gandy's Review, June 26, 1970.

REVIEW: Although his book is written in the vivid style of an adventure story, it helps answer some questions that should be of as much interest to U.S. policy-makers as to would-be revolutionaries. Questions such as: Who were the people who fought with Castro? Was the Cuban Revolution really "betrayed?" Why did the middle class revolutionaries get wiped out? St. Petersburg Times, July 5, 1970.

REVIEW: A Rebel in Cuba... is a vivid account of the months Macaulay spent in the hills of Pinar del Rio with the tough, earthy, often brutal Cuban rebels of the Twenty-six of July Movement.... The rebel army was composed mainly of poor, illiterate, almost wholly nonideological peasants. Macaulay says he is "ashamed" of some other historians for their "absurd" arguments that the revolution was mainly a middle class one. "The peasants were the sword of the revolution." Charleston (S.C.) News and Courier, July 16, 1970.

REVIEW: This short book has not only intrigue, suspense and adventure but is laced with perceptive–and what are bound to be controversial–observations on Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution. Macaulay makes it clear he believes the Cuban Revolution is more a personal than an ideological one.... It was from the rural peasantry, believes Macaulay, that the Revolution drew its greatest strength. "Cuban governments had never been much concerned about the peasants' right to live...." writes Macaulay. "The peasants thus had little compassion for their enemies and no use whatsoever for legal niceties... The peasants belonged to Fidel without qualm or qualification; they were the sword of the Revolution." Miami Herald, May 24, 1970.

REVIEW: An American who teamed up with Cuban rebel supporters of Castro in 1958, Macaulay spent months with the rebels in western Pinar del Rio Province.... His experiences add insight into the events of late 1958 and early 1959.... Much of his account is the sort of intimate detail about the men alongside whom he fought that adds to our understanding of why Castro was so successful. The Progressive, January 1971.

REVIEW: Macaulay spent the latter part of 1958 as a guerrilla with a small unit of Castro's forces whose mission was to harry Batista's troops and supporters in Pinar del Rio. His unpretentious account of that experience is enlightening, providing as it does a perspective of Castro's campaign quite different from that of the social scientist, the polemicist, or the ideologue... Macaulay tells of the dampness and chill, the mud and the filth, the forced marches and the interludes of tranquillity; of personal heroism and camaraderie; of hospitable peasants and suspected informers; of summary executions and brutal ambushes... Macaulay writes well, and his narrative is quick-paced. His book is a welcome and useful addition to the literature that has been produced on the Castro Revolution. Problems of Communism, July-August 1970.

REVIEW: A Rebel in Cuba...is without precedent in the field. An account of his participation in the last stages of Castro's successful guerrilla struggle against Batista, Macaulay's memoir, like his previous treatment of Sandino, avoids sermonizing and sentimentality. Personal and often candid, the book reveals Macaulay as an ambitious, romantic adventurer fascinated with weapons, infatuated with the military, sensitive to social injustice, and strongly committed to the ideals of liberal democracy and capitalism. His book is easy to read and full of colorful, first-hand information on the nature of the guerrilla struggle and the men who participated in it. Latin American Research Review, March 1971.

REVIEW: Neill Macaulay...has given us one of the most valuable accounts in English about the operation of the Cuban Rebel Army. While his experience was limited to about a year and confined to an area remote from the main center of the war, most of what he describes was true of the entire country. Anyone who wants to understand the vital role which the peasants played in the final victory of the Rebel Army would do well to read this book. The same may be said for those who still cling to the notion that it was the middle-class liberals who led in the fight against the Batista dictatorship, and that Castro cynically betrayed the type of revolution these forces had made possible. Hispanic American Historical Review, November 1970.

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