In modern-day Havana, the remnants of the glamorous past are everywhere—old hotel-casinos, vintage American cars & flickering neon signs speak of a bygone era that is widely familiar & often romanticized, but little understood. In Havana Nocturne, T.J. English offers a multifaceted true tale of organized crime, political corruption, roaring nightlife, revolution & international conflict that interweaves the dual stories of the Mob in Havana & the event that would overshadow it, the Cuban Revolution.
As the Cuban people labored under a violently repressive regime throughout the 50s, Mob leaders Meyer Lansky & Charles "Lucky" Luciano turned their eye to Havana. To them, Cuba was the ultimate dream, the greatest hope for the future of the US Mob in the post-Prohibition years of intensified government crackdowns. But when it came time to make their move, it was Lansky, the brilliant Jewish mobster, who reigned supreme. Having cultivated strong ties with the Cuban government & in particular the brutal dictator Fulgencio Batista, Lansky brought key mobsters to Havana to put his ambitious business plans in motion.
Before long, the Mob, with Batista's corrupt government in its pocket, owned the biggest luxury hotels & casinos in Havana, launching an unprecedented tourism boom complete with the most lavish entertainment, the world's biggest celebrities, the most beautiful women & gambling galore. But their dreams collided with those of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara & others who would lead the country's disenfranchised to overthrow their corrupt government & its foreign partners—an epic cultural battle that English captures in all its sexy, decadent, ugly glory.
Bringing together long-buried historical information with English's own research in Havana—including interviews with the era's key survivors—Havana Nocturne takes readers back to Cuba in the years when it was a veritable devil's playground for mob leaders. English deftly weaves together the parallel stories of the Havana Mob—featuring notorious criminals such as Santo Trafficante Jr & Albert Anastasia—& Castro's 26th of July Movement in a riveting, up-close look at how the Mob nearly attained its biggest dream in Havana—& how Fidel Castro trumped it all with the revolution.
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.
Great book that dives into the conjoined history of the Mob and the revolution in Cuba. A must read for history and cultural buffs alike.
Good subject, solid writing, no images
It keeps you reading, it is well researched, though some of the author's claims seem thin. Also, the gangster lingo sprinkled throughout the book doesn't add credibility, it just seems phony. You don't actually need to used the word "whacked" to talk about a killing.
Oh and I'm tired of publishers not putting images in the ebook version. There is no reason I need to google images separately. If images are in the paper version put them in the ebook version!