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Against All Hope: A Memoir of Life in Castro's Gulag [Paperback]

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Item Number 282379  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   428
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1.25" Width: 5.75" Height: 8.5"
Weight:   1.5 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 1, 2001
Publisher   Encounter Books
ISBN  1893554198  
EAN  9781893554191  


Availability  65 units.
Availability accurate as of Mar 23, 2017 10:22.
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Item Description...
Overview
Against All Hope is Armando Valladares' account of over twenty years in Fidel Castro's tropical gulag. Arrested in 1960 for being philosophically and religiously opposed to communism, Valladares was not released until 1982, by which time he had become one of the world's most celebrated "prisoners of conscience." Interned all those years at the infamous Isla de Pinos prison (from whose windows he watched the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion), Valladares suffered endless days of violence, putrid food and squalid living conditions, while listening to Castro's firing squads eliminating "counter revolutionaries" in the courtyard below his cell. Valladares survived by prayer and by writing poetry whose publication in Europe brought his case to the attention of international figures such as French President Francois Mitterand and to human rights organizations whose constant pressure on the Castro regime finally led to his release. When Against All Hope first appeared, it was immediately compared to Darkness at Noon and other classic prison narratives about the resilience of the human spirit in the face of totalitarianism. Now, with a new introduction by the author, which tells of his life since prison and brings the story of Cuban dissidence up to the case of Elian Gonzalez, Against All Hope is more relevant than ever.

Publishers Description
Against All Hope is Armando Valladares' account of over twenty years in Fidel Castro's tropical gulag. Arrested in 1960 for being philosophically and religiously opposed to communism, Valladares was not released until 1982, by which time he had become one of the world's most celebrated "prisoners of conscience." Interned all those years at the infamous Isla de Pinos prison (from whose windows he watched the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion), Valladares suffered endless days of violence, putrid food and squalid living conditions, while listening to Castro's firing squads eliminating "counter revolutionaries" in the courtyard below his cell. Valladares survived by prayer and by writing poetry whose publication in Europe brought his case to the attention of international figures such as French President Francois Mitterand and to human rights organizations whose constant pressure on the Castro regime finally led to his release.


Buy Against All Hope: A Memoir of Life in Castro's Gulag by Armando Valladares, Dan Schill, Paolo Ciuccarelli, Richard Saul Wurman, Simon Rogers, Alan L. Peterson & Sylvia Yount from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9781893554191 & 1893554198

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Does more for freedom and faith in God than all the books by intellectuals  Aug 5, 2008
Mandatory reading for humans, along with Jorge Masetti's In the Pirate's Den, which allows to see the other side: the middle-class, comfortable punk turned communist, the appropriate accolyte for Castro's genocide.

This book is a victory of faith and resistance against totalitarianism. Castro deceived the poor, the peasants of Cuba, he perverted the revolution those humble people were expecting. Castro had declared a thousand times that he was not a communist and that the revolution was "greener than palm trees", but when he got the power he proclaimed unashamedly the true nature of his beast.

This books stands as an invaluable monument to the Cubans whom Castro broke but never bent. Those who refused to say: "Yes, Commissar, I have done wrong. I accept Political Rehabilitation because I see now that communism is the only just system, and it alone can bring happiness to humanity" (p.358).

Notes on communism: "The authorities thought, moreover, that weeding out the cabecillas (leaders) would leave the less educated, less 'dangerous' prisoners, lacking leadership, easier to manipulate ... but if there is any ideology based completely on a misunderstanding of human behavior and the workings of men's psyche, their motivations, that ideology is without doubt marxism ... time would show that every man's conscience, system of values, and personal pride were what led him to resist. No man needed another to show him the way" (p.219).

"A communist always seems to prefer an angry, blurted, uncontrolled manner (of speech from their opponents). The truth, spoken calmly to his face always exasperates him. As what I said was unarguable, the two men turned angrily and walked away." (p.477).

I have to encourage the reader to get hold of this astounding book if only for the story of Alfredo Izaguirre (pp.239-242): "The only prisoner I know of who never performed any forced labor for his jailers -not even a minute's. It is fitting that his name go down in the history of the rebellion of the Cuban political prisons."

On Castro's true revolutionary companions: (Eloy Gutiérrez Menoyo) "led the bloody fighting against Batista's Army (in the mountains of Escambray), he had the sympathy of every peasant there -but Eloy had fought to establish a truly democratic system in Cuba, not another dictatorship. Therefore when he saw that Castro was becoming a tyrant, he fled the country; a while later he came back with a small group of armed men who tried to reach the mountains to continue the struggle. But he was trapped, captured and sentenced to 30 years in prison".

"Rafael del Pino had been one of Castro's closest allies when Castro was in Mexico preparing the Granma landing. One night Castro confided his plans for Cuba to Rafael, and Rafael was so shocked at their totalitarian aspect that he abandoned Fidel. Castro never forgave Rafael that 'betrayal' ... Rafael was jailed". In 1977 he died in jail. "No one ever saw the body. The Ministry of the Interior flatly refused to turn it over to his family."

"Ex-commander Mario Chaves, who had assaulted the Moncada barracks with Castro, been in prison with him, and accompanied him on the Granma landing, was brutally beaten (in jail) and literally dragged to the punishment cells" (p.458)

Pierre Golendorf, a French marxist intellectual who had come to Cuba and worked for the Cuban government ... realized that the island was one big farm that Castro ran like a slave plantation ... he wrote letters about the lie the revolution had turned into ... the political police accused him, like everyone who stood up to the revolution, of being an agent of the CIA. He got 3 years and 2 months in prison. "The tribunals do nothing but read sentences (imposed by politicians)". Spain is not very different today. See how judge Gómez de Liaño was disposed of his toga for sentencing a big pro-government media shot (the El País media group).

Children of the Devil: "One would naturally assume him to be a doctor, but he wasn't. He had been a traveling salesman for medical supply companies. This man, "Dr" Herrera Sotolongo, a Spanish communist, had fled to Cuba because of the civil war in Spain, and thanks to the solidarity of the Cuban revolution with Spanish communism, he had become chief of all medical services of all jails and prisons in Cuba. And you always had to call him doctor, or he wouldn't answer you. He knew nothing at all about medicine, of course, but he was a man the leader could trust." (p.233-234)

The Western world's ignominious role: Conversation between Martha, Valladares' wife, and Pierr Schori, social-democrat big shot in Sweden: "-So if you know there's an implacable dictatorship in Cuba, if you know all liberties have been suspended, why don't you speak out? -Because that would be giving the Americans a publicity weapon." (!!) "Schori warned her not to speak to the press about this interview. Perhaps he didn't want to provoke Fidel."

This undescribable book by Valladares, who should be the president of Cuba and give Castro a tour of his own jails and lacks, ends by remembering one of the anonymous victims in this genocide, a Christian martyr at his moment of death: "a heart overflowing with love, raising his arms to the invisible heaven and pleading for mercy for his executioners. 'Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.' And a burst of machine-gun fire ripping open his breast."

Valladares writes beautifully, and even through all the horrors od more than 20 years of torture described here he keeps a tone of hope, of mysterious sanity and confidence all along, and which assures him that what he's doing is write, according to his conscience and to the power the Almighty God sustains him with. Why is this book unpublished in Spanish-speaking countries or so hard to find? That's another ignominy.
 
It Will Change You, For Sure  Jun 6, 2008
I read this book in Spanish, in condensed form, when I was fourteen years old. (1987, to be exact) Twenty-one years later, I still think about it. It made an anti-Communist out of me, and made me absolutely abhor what Fidel and Raul have done to such a beautiful island as Cuba, and to its people, for almost fifty years.

Sure, you might say they have "free health care". Trust me: they have paid a terrible price for "free."

It should be a must-read, together with Vaclav Havel's essays, for those who need to know what Communism really is: the rottenness of the soul, and an ideology borne out of the bowels of hell itself. Nothing else can describe it.

Viva Cuba Libre! (And this from a boricua.)
 
One of the saddest and most horrifying memoirs I've read!  Feb 24, 2008
A beautiful and terrifying memoir of Castro's Cuba. This man suffered unspeakable injustices at the hands of Castro's servants. The honesty and heartfelt memories of this man persecuted by the Communists is one of the best memoirs I have ever read. Wonderful testimony to the bravery and courage of the human spirit in the face of horrible odds.
 
Makes Shawshank seem like a Club Med  Oct 15, 2007
Another this site reviewer got it right when he wrote that this book should be given to all one's deluded friends sporting hip "Che" T-shirts. This eye-opening, stomach-churning account of the author's 22 years in Cuban prisons, the conditions of which make Shawshank seem like a Club Med, demolishes the romanticized memory of "freedom fighters" like Che and exposes the lie that Castro's Revolution created a socialist paradise. And it highlights Communism's inability to understand or erase one of the most important traits of human nature: our hunger for individual freedom and personal dignity.

Valladares wastes no time plunging us into a hell Dante himself could barely have imagined - on page one he is abducted in the middle of the night by the political police on trumped-up charges (having been denounced, he feels, by a jealous coworker for his disapproval of Castro's embrace of Communism), and before his prison odyssey is over, he endures and observes the worst extremes of totalitarian repression. The tension and the drama never let up, and often reach the breaking point. The litany of sadistic human rights abuses goes on page after page, every page; the degree of physical and psychological cruelty is so incomprehensible as to nearly defy belief. And yet Valladares and others maintain an almost superhuman strength of character and will to live that are inspirational and humbling. Amazingly, there are even flashes of humor and an ultimate triumph in this maddening and disturbing memoir.

Against All Hope is one of the most gripping books you will ever read. It has a compelling social conscience and an inspirational message of hope, faith, courage, determination, and even love, and it will leave you with a changed perspective on yourself and the world.
 
Cuban paradise  Jul 5, 2007
Give a copy of this book to all your friends wearing Che t-shirts. After so many descriptions of beatings and hunger strikes, you become numb to the next ones. I recall the AI campaigns in the 70s-80s to send letters and postcards to the Cuban and Soviet embassies just to remind them that the world was watching. Sadly today AI has degenerated into just another wacko outfit. The UN comes in for a beating of its own in this book, as it just sat back and closed its eyes, passing resolutions against Israel and other nonsense instead of putting pressure on Cuba. This continues today with Zimbabwe, NK, and others.

Take a look at "The Aquariums of Pyongyang" for a look at the same song, different verse.
 

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