NEW! Eduardo Luis Rodríguez. The Havana Guide: Modern Architecture 1925-1965. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2000. The Havana Guide is the first publication of its kind in English to recognize the wealth of modern architecture that exists throughout Havana. Written with an academic perspective, Rodríguez provides a brief introduction addressing the early years of the modern movement that were sparked by architectural journals of the time, and continues up through the last monumental project completed after the 1959 Revolution The National Art Schools. Architects from Cuba and abroad, known and unknown are discussed, along with the ways in which they strove for a Cuban architectural identity. The overall guide is organized into 15 neighborhoods, and features 200 buildings that range from private residences to hotels, institutions, and churches. For each entry, he provides a brief but complete analysis of the architects inspiration and design intent. Many entries also include floor plans, elevation drawings, and historic photographs. As an architect and Editor-in-Chief of the architecture journal, Arquitectura Cuba, Rodríguez has compiled an excellent resource for anyone interested in modern architecture which shouldnt be passed up. This book is an absolute necessary addition to the Cuba section of your library! This is one of six books we recommend students to purchase.
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Time Out Guide: Havana and the Best of Cuba, 2001, published by Penguin Books, London, England. A great reference for travel in Cuba. This is one of six books we recommend students to purchase.
Cuba: Travel Survival Kit by David Stanley. Oakland, California: Lonely Planet Publications. Available at most bookstores, call toll free 1-800-275-8555. This book is the Bible for Americans traveling in Cuba. This is most popular travel guide for those traveling in Cuba and it is deserved. It includes useful maps of the cities and neighborhoods, self-guided walking tours, lists of non-government restaurants and other useful information. Marazul Tours recommends it! The chief photographer for Stanley's book, Rick Gerhardt, traveled on our Six City program to take many of the pictures used in this essential guide. This is one of six books we recommend students to purchase.
Cuba: Handbook by Christopher Baker. Chico: California: Moon Travel. Books 1-800-345-5473 or look it up at Amazon books: http://amazon.com. It covers some of the same material but comes with numerous left wing essays about life in Cuba. Some of the statements are controversial with such claims that black Cubans and woman have greater equality and power than their counterparts here in America. This book takes on more social issues. Amazon gives this book 5 stars. If you have to choose one book go with Stanley and have your traveling companion buy this book.
Warning: These are the only three travel books to buy! We have had good success with these books; they have the most accurate information for visitors. Our participants have been very disappointed with other books that are typically reliable elsewhere.
Other books you may want to get:
Latin-American Spanish Phrase Book and Dictionary by Berlitiz. Make sure you get the small thin one that fits easily into your shirt pocket! The bulkier Spanish phrase books are not good for the road and you won't want to carry them around. If you are new or brushing up on your high school Spanish this is the best book. The phrase book is enough to get you out of any "lost or found" situation. English, by the way, is the second language of Cuba with popular music, movies and ESPN events transmitted in English with Spanish subtitles.
Trading with the Enemy: A Yankee Travels Through Castor’s Cuba by Tom Miller. New York, New York: Basic Books. Wow! I could not put this book down. It provides a nice even-handed account of life in Cuba under Castro. A book that everyone seems to love and few hate. A very touching story akin to Steinbeck’s Travels with Charlie: My Search for America. The book is highly recommended by the Marazul Tours, Inc.
La Habana Colonial: Guia De Arquitectura by Maria Ellena Martin Zequieira and Eduardo Luis Rodriguez Fernandez, published in Cuba and Spain. (ISBN: 84-8095-030-7) Very, very difficult to get in the United States but it will be available two blocks away from our Hotel at the National Union of Architects and Engineers (UNIACC). This book is in Espanol but it is still pretty easy to follow if your Spanish is limited. It provides good maps, statistics, names, and dates of buildings. Very handy! UNIACC also has a large hardcover book that is nice but very expensive. You can get Eduardo Luis Rodriguez other book that we have reviewed in this Cuban book guide (look at the top for his other book!)
The Havana: Two faces of the Antillean Metropolis by Robert Segre, Mario Coyula (one of our tour guide leaders) and Joseph Scarpaci. New York, New York: John Wiley and Sons. 1-800-879-4539 or try http://amazon.com. The title might be a little stiff and academic but it is a neat collaboration between American, Brazilian and Cuban academics on planning a socialist city. Illustrated with maps, pictures and other data. Especially good for planners, architects, urban historians and geographers. This book is also recommended by Marazul tours. The book is listed at $70. This is one of six books we recommend students purchase.
A Short History edited by Leslie Bethell. New York, New York: Cambridge
Press. This is a good book written for an academic audience. Four different
authors write about Cuba from when it was discovered up to 1994. So the contemporary
history is a bit lacking. Unlike most history and political books on Cuba, this
book seems even handed and fair.
Havana: Tales of the City featuring Graham Greene, Fidel Castro, Ernest Hemmingway, Mario Puzo Francis Ford Coppola, Henry Cabot Lodge and others edited by John Miller and Susannah Clark. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. (ISBN 0- 8118-1058-5).I love this book! It provides another point of view by writers on Cuba before and after Castro. We travel to several of these historical places cited by authors.
The Readers Companion to Cuba edited by Alan Ryan. New York, New York: Harcourt Brace and Company. (ISBN 0-15-600367-8) Another reader with contributions from a variety of writers: John Muir, Frank Mankiewicz, Martha Gellhorn, Pico Iyer and others. Not as good as the Chronicle collection, but deserves some note because of the different writers featured. The essays are more current than the Chronicle collection.
Havana Dreams: A Story of Cuba by Wendy Gimbal. New York, New York: Alfred A. Knopf. A story of four generations of Cuban women before and after the revolution. The book is very moving. This book got a very good New York Times book review.
Revolution of Forms: Cuba's Forgotten Art Schools This book published by Princeton came out three months ago and has been given deserved praise. It also explains in a case study of what happened to architecture under communism. For many, the Cuban Art Schools rank as among the best architecture in the world and at the very least the best modern architecture in Cuba. This was built several years after the revolution but the buildings were never completed because communist officials declared that all new building projects had to be done using mass industrial production techniques similar to the Soviet Union. Thus much of the last 35 years out of the 40 years of Cuba under communism saw the demise of architecture and turned it into a faceless, cold mass production of five story concrete housing. Housing and places of work were done to maximize production of units. Playful, individualistic and human scale housing production became almost non-existent during during this era. In the recent conference on 50 years of Cuban Architecture, architects passed resolutions and demanded a greater say in how buildings were designed. Today, some new modern architecture is being developed that ranks as among the best in the world. Jose Choy's work on Hotel Santiago and Santiago train station are very interesting. This is one of six books we recommend students to purchase.
Cuba : 400 Years of Architectural Heritage Rachel Carley, Andrea Brizzi (Photographer) / Hardcover / Published 1997 When we were on the road for 11 days, all fifteen of us had a chance to look at this important and comprehensive book including our Cuban architectural experts; everyone seemed to agree that this was the best book on the subject. Nothing else comes close and the book is so engaging and easy to read! That's a tough trick when you are talking about architecture and especially 500 years of it in Cuba. After you get either David Stanley or the Christopher Baker books on how to travel in Cuba, this along with your Espanol book should be your next purchase. This is a fabulous book! The essays are erudite, filled with well researched history of Cuban architecture and the photography is spectacular. The quality of the writing is also eye opening. It reads like literature laced with some facsinating antedotes about the architeture. It is surprising that this book has not made the Amazon.com list of best books on Cuba. Buy this book, you won't be disappointed. In terms of travel, it is about the size of three David Stanley's: Cuba Travel Survival Kit. So be forewarned it is big and bulky as an oversized book hitting 220 pages but it is a great reference guide! The price is also very reasonable given its depth. When we were on the road for 12 to 14 days everyone had a chance to look at this important and comprehensive book including our Cuban architectural experts and everyone seemed to agree that this was the best book. This is one of six books we recommend students to purchase.
Cars of Cuba by Cristina Garcia, et al / Paperback / Published 1995 I bought this book last November and it is still on our coffee table at home. A great book that is fun to look at over and over again. The cars in the context of Cuba tell a whole other story. Very good photography. Highly recommended makes for a great gift.
Ay, Cuba!: A Socio-Erotic Journey by Andrei Codrescu, David Graham (Photographer) / Hardcover / Published 1999 This was featured in the New York Times Magazine based on ten days in Cuba. As the title suggests the travel revolves around sex that perhaps is not so sexy after you start thinking about it. Of interest to those who want to see a perspective from an outsider. Of special interest is an interview with Mario Coyula who often meets with our groups in Cuba.
Cuba and the Night : A Novel This book found its way on the bus and participants thought it was a good read. It is the story of how a married Canadian visits Cuba and falls in love with a Cuban. Things get complicated and crazy with his whole life turned upside down.
Cuba: The Special Period by Marcia Friedman Samuel Book Publishers 1998 isbn: 0-9657250-0-6 The title of the book seems neutral but after you get to the first page of text you know that Friedmand does not like Cuba under communism or Castro. The book includes one chapter called "voices from exiles" which would be interesting but it turns out to be rants from exiles who have done very well in Miami and no attempt is made to bring in the voices of non-elite Cuban exiles who generally have mixed feelings about American culture and Cuba. These non-elite exiles would make a more fascinating book of voices. The strength of this book, however, is in the photography which is spectacular and passionate. Friedman's essay which at times resembles poetry is very clever and sensitive. Although I don't agree with her, I think the book puts together the best argument against Castro and it is interesting to hear what these elite exiles have to say. But the lack of balance hurts the book because of its right wing rant.