The New York Times bestselling author of BE COOL and GET SHORTY. War in Cuba isn't Ben Tyler's concern. Still, sailing mares and guns into Havana harbor in 1898 - right past the submerged wreckage of the U.S. battleship Maine - may not be the smartest thing the recently prison-sprung horse wrangler ever did. Neither is shooting one of the local ...
The New York Times bestselling author of BE COOL and GET SHORTY. War in Cuba isn't Ben Tyler's concern. Still, sailing mares and guns into Havana harbor in 1898 - right past the submerged wreckage of the U.S. battleship Maine - may not be the smartest thing the recently prison-sprung horse wrangler ever did. Neither is shooting one of the local Guardia, though the pompous peacock deserved it. Now Tyler's sitting tight in a vermin-infested Cuban stockade waiting to face a firing squad. But he's not dying until he gets the money he's owed from a two-timing American sugar baron. And there's one smart, pistol-hot lady at the rich man's side who could help Ben get everything he's got rightfully coming...even when the whole damn island's going straight to hell.
I got this book as a reward for completing a papre on the Spanish-American war. This was a good thing because I could understand all of the off hand historic references made by the author. Mr Leonard sees the conflict from the ground up. he even includes a reporter (one of many that were in Cuba at the time) and a survivor from the U.S.S. Maine to fill in some gaps and keep the story connected to historic events. This story reminds me of the reports that came out of Saigon by the reporters who were covering the vietnam war. Always revealing the background story not mentioned in official history. The reationship between Cubans civil servants and the Spanish colonials was not always on good footing. Just think of the Vichy French and the Germans in "Casablanca. Also how the American "Liberators" looked down on the cuban :Freedom Fighters". Cuba Libra adds amother dimension to the understanding of this war. The story reads just like a movie treatment (I often had Brad Pitt in mind) and the pace is always moving. By the time you come to the surprise ending you have had a very nice vacation in Cuba and want to return for another visit.
Publishers Weekly, 1997-12-01 A departure from Leonard's usual Miami-Detroit axis, a return to his western-writing roots and possibly his most ambitious book yet, this is a dazzling play on and explication of the 1898 Spanish-American War. Arizona horse dealer (and ex-con bank robber) Ben Tyler joins his old boss, Charlie Burke, in a plan to sell horses (and, secretly, guns) in Cuba. When Tyler, in self-defense, kills a hotheaded Spanish officer, he and Charlie are flung into a hellish prison at the mercy of Guardia Civil Major Tavalera, easily one of Leonard's nastiest villains. Then the USS Maine blows up in Havana's harbor and the U.S. and Spain spin toward war, with Cuban insurrectos goading on the inevitable violence. Tyler becomes involved with an assortment of colorful characters: old mulatto Cuban patriot Victor Fuentes; American sugar planter Roland Boundreaux and his young mistress, Amelia Brown; Virgil Webster, a boyish Marine survivor of the Maine; Chicago newsman Neely Tucker (who occasionally serves as the book's chorus); Havana police detective Rudi Calvo; and rebel guerrilla chief Islero, who's Victor's half-brother. The plot gallops along from Havana to Natanzas to the jungle to Guantanamo Bay. Motivations are of course very tangled. In brilliantly laconic prose and expert flashbacks, Leonard depicts Spain's harsh suppression of Cubans (especially blacks), the Maine explosion, ambushes, chases, two shootings in Havana's Hotel Ingeletterra bar and the attack on Guantanamo Bay. Ben and Amelia's affair is sweet, funny and believable; and, if Ben's final affection for Cuba seems a bit strained, it also manages to generate another drop-dead Leonard last line. Leonard flashes less of his throwaway humor here than usual, but he clearly has great sympathy for almost all his charactersŠeven Tavalera has real styleŠand readers will, too. This is the kind of book they will race through and then want to immediately re-read, slowly. Major ad/promo; BOMC and QPB selections; BDD audio; author tour. (Feb.)
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