The next time someone tells me, “I want to go to Cuba before it changes,” I will insist they read DePalmas’ The Cubans.
Forget the travel books that guide your wanderlust to the best mojito bars and cigar shops in Cuba. Forget the academic history tomes that leave you heartlessly informed. Forget the coffee table books of glossy photos that vicariously play on your romantic notion of Havana’s ruins. Forget the media that polarizes your perception of the island through an anachronistic liberal or conservative lens. If you honestly want to feel Cuba—not just understand it—then read The Cubans.
Finally, a book that demystifies Cuba through the brilliance of DePalma, who knows that a nation is merely an idea subject to infinite abstraction until it is grounded in the lives of its people and their rich and varied stories that are sadly—and almost inevitably—lost in the crosshairs of ideology and crossfire of power. With the eye of a poet, the perceptiveness of an ethnographer, and the heart of an emotional historian, DePalma renders Cuba through the spirit of Cubans as they have always been, as they are now, and as they will always be, regardless.
--Richard Blanco, Presidential Inaugural Poet, author of How to Love a Country
photo by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders