cover image Fidel Castro: My Life: A Spoken Autobiography

Fidel Castro: My Life: A Spoken Autobiography

Ignacio Ramonet, Fidel Castro. Scribner Book Company, $40 (723pp) ISBN 978-1-4165-5328-1

In February, 2002, Ramonet, the editor of French monthly Le Monde diplomatique, began a two-year conversation with the controversial Cuban head of state, a collaboration that resulted in this Q&A-style, Castro-approved look into the revolutionary leader's life, from boyhood through his half-century in power. Ramonet proves a worthy interviewer, well prepared to tackle the famed Communist revolutionary's legacy, and while many of Castro's answers are predictably self-serving-""I've fought adamantly against any manifestation of the cult of personality""-the bombastic leader's views on political figures and world events are genuinely thoughtful, and at times fascinating. High points include accounts of his relationship with Khrushchev during the Cuban missile crisis, backed up by excerpts from letters they exchanged; his advice for Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez during a 2002 coup attempt; and his sincere, positive assessment of American President Jimmy Carter. Though readers may find it hard to take this authorized life story at face value, Castro's first attempt to tell his complete story provides an engaging perspective on the man and the world he helped shape.