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The details of Lobo's life are fit for Hollywood. He twice cornered the international sugar market and had the largest collection of Napoleonica outside of France, including the emperor's back teeth and death mask. He once faced a firing squad only to be pardoned at the last moment, and he later survived a gangland shooting. He courted movie stars from Bette Davis to Joan Fontaine and filled the swimming pool at his sprawling estate with perfume when Esther Williams came to visit.
As Rathbone observes, such are the legends of which revolutions are made and later justified. But Lobo was also a progressive and a philanthropist, and his genius was so widely acknowledged that Che Guevara personally offered him the position of minister of sugar in the Communist regime. When Lobo declined---knowing that their worldviews could never be compatible---his properties were nationalized, most of his fortune vanished overnight, and he left the island, never to return to his beloved Cuba. Financial Times journalist John Paul Rathbone has been fascinated by this intoxicating, whirligig, and contradictory prerevolutionary period his entire life. His mother was also a member of Havana's storied haute bourgeoisie and a friend of Lobo's daughters.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Terry on 03-26-12
Where does The Sugar King of Havana rank among all the audiobooks you???ve listened to so far?
Absolutely amongst the top 20.
What did you like best about this story?
It had a lot of accurate information about what Cuba was like prior to Castro.
What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?
Not to be demanding but the Spanish pronounciation of the reader was atrocious. Even the simplest Spanish words were mangled. It was distracting.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
It made me nostalgic for the Cuba I knew as a child.
Any additional comments?
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
By Beatriz on 07-02-18
One of the best books about the quixotic island nation. Rathbone looks on as an outsider, but with an inheritance of exile. His desire to understand and to rationalize the Cuban experience is factually informative but also quite heartfelt. He happens to be a very good writer as well.