Reviews of Barcardi and the Long Fight for Cuba

“It’s hard to imagine that any (Cuban history) is as enjoyable as “Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba” by Tom Gjelten, a correspondent for National Public Radio. His book is as smooth and refreshing as a well-made daiquiri.” 

–Barry Gewen, New York Times (read the entire NY Times review)

“A gripping saga that tells us just as much about human nature and the struggle between power and freedom as it does about Bacardi’s transformation from a fledgling business into the world’s top family-owned distiller.”

–Alvaro Vargas Llosa, The Wall Street Journal (read the entire Wall Street Journal review)

“A thoughtful, thorough piece of reporting. Tom Gjelten subtly and skillfully details the saga of the Bacardi family. You may never look at a mojito or a daiquiri quite the same way.”

–Peter M. Gianotti, Newsday (New York)

“With its fabulous triumphs and poignant defeats, this stirring tale of rum, money, and revolutions has all the markings of a great epic movie.”

–Richard Feinberg, Foreign Affairs (read the entire Foreign Affairs review)

“Absorbing history, at once a colorful family saga and a carefully researched corrective to caricatures of decadent pre-revolutionary Cuba.”

–Linda Robinson, The Washington Post (read the entire review) (Listen to the Washington Post Book World podcast interview with Tom Gjelten)

“Mr. Gjelten masterfully illuminates the biography of a cause personified by a proud family that pioneered a major business and shaped the recent past of Cuba, a neighbor whose still uncertain future will almost certainly affect America and the rest of the Western Hemisphere.”

–Harry Hurt III, New York Times Business Section (read the entire NY Times review)

“With thorough reporting and an eye for rich, often quirky detail, veteran National Public Radio correspondent Tom Gjelten traces the story of the Bacardi family, whose product helped shape Cuba’s soul until Fidel Castro nationalized its company’s facilities in 1960.”

–Will Weissert, The Chicago Tribune (read the entire review)

“Exhaustively researched, succeeds in painting a vivid portrait of the company’s early, scrappy years and its prominent role in the fight against Spanish rule. Gjelten provides a fascinating look at how the company built itself into the multinational giant it has become.”

–Randy Kennedy, New York Times Sunday Book Review (read the entire Sunday Book Review review)

“National Public Radio correspondent Tom Gjelten writes an appealingly smooth and colorful history – thorough and open-minded.”

–Peter Lewis, San Francisco Chronicle (read the entire SF Chronicle review)

“Gjelten has managed to capture in a single book almost all that one needs to know of Cuban history. His exhaustive reporting allowed him to delve deeply into the Cuban character and soul and reach conclusions that many Cubans will not like to hear, but which are nevertheless true.”

–Mirta Ojito, CJR (Columbia Journalism Review) (read the entire CJR review)

“A thoroughly researched and lively history of the family-owned drinks business, currently the third largest liquor producer in the world.”

–Christopher Silvester,  Spectator Business  (London)

“Gjelten leaves nothing unrecorded in his objective, warts and all, history of an unusual company, illustrating Cuban history without the canonizations by leftist apologists for Fidel and the demonizations by conservative Cuban exiles and their friends.”

–Ian Williams, World Policy Blog

“Tom Gjelten traces the history of the Bacardi family, their business, and their involvement in Cuban history with consummate skill. This is a first-rate distillation, at once illuminating and entrancing; a sweeping narrative that rivals the best of historical novels. This book will definitely enhance the buzz in every Daiquiri and Mojito, and give added meaning to every Cuba Libre served anywhere in the world”

—Carlos Eire, author of Waiting for Snow in Havana, winner of the National Book Award

“With a novelist’s sense of drama and a historian’s understanding of the social forces that shape our lives, Tom Gjelten has captured vividly — through the chronicle of a powerful family’s fortunes — one of the great political dramas of our time.”

–Ronald Steel, author of Walter Lippmann and the American Century

“Contained within family genealogy are often found profound insights into the history of an entire people. The Bacardís represent one such family. Gjelten has fashioned a splendid prism through which to cast new light on the human dimensions of the Cuban past. The epochal transitions of Cuban national formation are experienced through successive generations of Bacardís, revealing the complex ways that a people are overtaken by the forces of their own creation. Anyone with an interest in Cuban history–and a fondness for Cuban rum–will find the Bacardí family history irresistible.”

–Louis A. Perez, Jr., J. Carlyle Sitterson Professor of History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba explores and illuminates the story of our nearest and largest Caribbean island neighbor in an utterly unique and fundamentally revealing way. Tom Gjelten has written a book that is a ‘must read’ for scholars, policy makers, and indeed anyone interested in the long, hard journey of Cuba — and for what will happen there next. A brilliant job!”

–Admiral Jim Stavridis, U.S. Navy, Commander, U.S. Southern Command

“A marvelous blend of biography and vivid history. This book will surely become essential reading to understanding both Cuba’s tragic past and the island’s post-Castro future. A stunning achievement from a versatile journalist.”

–Kai Bird, co-author of the Pulitzer-Prize winning biography, American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer