Saturday, September 19, 2009

New book out next month: Without Fidel

Publisher: Scribner. Length: 352 pages. Price on Amazon: $18.48.

Ann Louise Bardach's latest book is called "Without Fidel: A Death Foretold in Miami, Havana, and Washington" and will be out in October. The Daily Beast published this excerpt:

The dying began on July 27, 2006—and it has yet to end. Certainly, it would have been hard to imagine a final coda less appealing to Fidel Castro—a proud and prudish man who has zealously guarded his personal privacy. For Castro, an obsessive autocrat and micro-manager, nothing could have been more distressing than to see details of his emergency intestinal surgery splayed across the front pages of newspapers and Web sites five months later. For the first time, Fidel Castro had been sidelined as the master of his own fate. A new portrait—that of a frail octogenarian clinging to life—supplanted his carefully crafted persona of the vigilant warrior.
But as befitted a movie-star dictator—and the world’s longest-reigning head of state—Castro would take his time leaving the stage. That exit, with periodic finales, is fated to be a marathon: an epic that one might be tempted to call The Fideliad.

On July 26, 2006, Castro had participated in the usual anniversary celebrations of the Cuban Revolution. But as the day wore on, El Comandante was visibly piqued and coughing, in crippling pain. “I thought that would be the end of it,” he later reflected. Hours later, he was flown back to Havana and rushed to Cuba’s foremost medical facility.
Fidel Castro during his last big speech on the afternoon of July 26, 2006. Bardach writes that he was in "crippling pain" that day.
A week earlier in Argentina, Castro had sparred with a Cuban-American reporter who questioned him about a dissident denied a visa to leave Cuba. An enraged Castro had erupted into a lightning tirade, captured on videotape.
After he fell ill, one source close to Castro’s doctors speculated that the stressful encounter had precipitated a furious new bout of diverticulitis. This painful, recurrent intestinal infection had dogged Castro since the 1970s and reportedly first required surgery in the 1980s. Diverticulosis is a relatively common symptom of aging characterized by outpouchings—or diverticula—in the lining of the colon or large intestine. When the diverticula become infected, bleed or rupture, the so-called diverticulitis can be exceedingly painful and potentially life threatening.
Castro almost certainly suffered from the most severe variant of this disease, known in some medical circles as “malignant diverticulitis.” It is not technically cancer, but it often has a similar progression, with comparable mortality rates. “This form of the disease pursues a relentless course of chronic sepsis, recurrent fistulization and eventual death due to one or more complications of the disease,” according to one medical paper written on the subject. Castro’s handlers could truthfully deny the persistent rumor that he had colon cancer, yet his illness, which cascaded into multiple complications, was equally challenging.
Excerpt continues here.
Along the Malecon's Fidel Castro page


Joseph said...

Castro cannot be the longest reigning head of state. There is a differnece between head of state and head of government. Quesn Elizabeth of the UK and King Bumipol Adunyadei of Thialand have both been head of state longer than Castro.

Tracey Eaton said...

good point