HAVANA (AP) — Fidel Castro’s new book spins tales of his childhood, university years and life through his 20s in his whimsical and long-winded style – but contains little information that hasn’t appeared in other sources.
The 833-page The Strategic Victory on the battle that helped speed him to power in 1959 is not yet available to the general public. However, The Associated Press obtained a copy Tuesday, Aug. 3 from those distributed during a special, closed-door unveiling Monday night, Aug. 2 attended by Castro himself.
Castro said he was surprised that the book is being released mere weeks after he completed it and has already begun work on a second volume.
The son of a wealthy though unrefined landowner, Castro was educated in Roman Catholic schools, joined a gun-toting radical student group while studying law at the University of Havana and launched a disastrous attack on a Cuban military barracks in the eastern city of Santiago, where nearly all participants were killed or captured.
He was eventually freed into exile in Mexico, returned to Cuba and began a guerrilla struggle in the Sierra Maestra mountains in the island’s east that led to the ouster of dictator Fulgencio Batista.
Though Castro has authored numerous books – this one is his second since a 2006 health crisis forced him to cede power to his younger brother Raul – publishers have long clamored for a chance to publish his complete memoirs.
The book is not meant to be a memoir, but contains an autobiographical section in the introduction.
Castro includes impressions of his early years, such as when his parents sent him to Santiago to attend school, but he instead remained at home for a year with a foster family that never enrolled him.
It offers some dreadfully dry details about his college days, during which he had no choice but to carry a gun, he said, and tried but failed to win major class office. The story follows him as he became increasingly involved in the anti-government underground while in his 20s.