08 March 2003

Book Review: Cuba - The Land of Miracles: A Journey Through Modern Cuba, by Stephen Smith, ***

The Cuban coined the term "the land of miracles" in the nineties, during the "special period" when the end of Soviet subsidies brought untold privations and suffering just as the rest of the world was ditching Communism. An official Cuba version of events is available here.

This is a good book about life in Cuba in the mid-nineties, and not much has changed 6 years on, so most of the content is not out of date. He conveys a good sense of what Cuban daily life is. Smith is a careful observer, though not as careful a researcher of facts and figures; his analysis is a bit superficial and unsystematic.

The main problem I have with the book is that the author is too egocentric. The word "I" must appear a million time, and the prose often reads more like a book about the author himself than about Cuba. Would have been better if he had taken a bit of a step back here and there.

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