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Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba and Then Lost It to the Revolution

Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba and Then Lost It to the Revolution
Author: T. J. English
ISBN 13: 9780061712746
ISBN 10: 61712744
Edition: Reprint
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: 2009-06-09
Format: Paperback
Pages: 432
List Price: $15.99

An award-winning journalist, screenwriter, and historian offers the complete story of how the mob infiltrated Havana in the 1950s, made a fortune, and then lost it all to Fidel Castro.

Publishers Weekly

Old Havana mambos on the brink of the abyss in this chronicle of Cuba in the decades before the 1959 revolution. True-crime writer English (Paddy Whacked) presents an empire-building saga in which the "Havana Mob" of American gangsters, led by visionary financier Meyer Lansky, controlled Cuba. Empowered by permissive gambling laws and payoffs to dictator Fulgencio Batista, the Mafia poured millions into posh hotels, casinos and nightclubs, skimmed huge profits and sought to make Havana its financial headquarters. The results: exuberant nightlife, a giddy Afro-Cuban jazz scene, sordid backroom sex shows and the occasional grisly gangland hit. English revels in purple prose ("the island seethed like a bitch with a low-grade fever") and decadent details, including an orgy with Frank Sinatra and a bevy of prostitutes that was interrupted by autograph-seeking Girl Scouts and a nun. But his estimate of the importance of the Havana mob and its "showdown" with Castro's puritanical rebels seems inflated. More supplicant than suzerain to Batista, the mob focused on internecine feuds and paid little attention to the brewing insurrection. The casinos, hotels and nightclubs were all the mob owned-but they sure threw one hell of a party. Photos. (May)

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