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Castro: A Graphic Novel

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On the heels of America’s renewed relations with Cuba: a vividly depicted graphic novel on the life of Fidel Castro.


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On the heels of America’s renewed relations with Cuba: a vividly depicted graphic novel on the life of Fidel Castro.

30 review for Castro: A Graphic Novel

  1. 5 out of 5

    Barbara McEwen

    3.5 stars - As usual, I find the graphic novel a great way to read biographies and get into history. It seemed a fair representation of him as far as I can tell and I think it was well done.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Stewart Tame

    This was interesting, but fairly bland. Since Castro is such a polarizing figure, I can appreciate that he would be difficult to write about. No matter how scrupulously fair and balanced the writing, the pro-Castro faction will complain that he wasn't praised enough, and the anti-Castro forces will settle for nothing less than total demonization. Kleist, fortunately, does his best to ignore both extremes and focus on telling the story as well as he is able. Our point of view on the story is a yo This was interesting, but fairly bland. Since Castro is such a polarizing figure, I can appreciate that he would be difficult to write about. No matter how scrupulously fair and balanced the writing, the pro-Castro faction will complain that he wasn't praised enough, and the anti-Castro forces will settle for nothing less than total demonization. Kleist, fortunately, does his best to ignore both extremes and focus on telling the story as well as he is able. Our point of view on the story is a young reporter, Karl Mertens. Through his eyes we see Castro's beginnings as a revolutionary and his eventual rise to power. Mertens seems perhaps rather naive, but we have the perspective of knowing how much of the story turns out. The story covers Cuban history from the Batista regime up to the present day. Kleist isn't strongly interested in praising or damning, and does his best to portray events as honestly as possible. Ultimately, it's a history book, and if it's not history you're particularly interested in, then you're probably not going to get much out of this.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mars Dorian

    The book tells the story of the young and ambitious student turned lawyer Fidel eventually fighting the Barista regime before becoming the 'revolutionary' leader fighting the 'imperialist' forces of the United States. Most of the story is told through a fictional ideological journalist from Germany who joins the revolutionary movement and observes Castro's reign. This could have easily been a 4-star comic, but the bewildering depiction of a mass-murdering dictator made the book come across as soft The book tells the story of the young and ambitious student turned lawyer Fidel eventually fighting the Barista regime before becoming the 'revolutionary' leader fighting the 'imperialist' forces of the United States. Most of the story is told through a fictional ideological journalist from Germany who joins the revolutionary movement and observes Castro's reign. This could have easily been a 4-star comic, but the bewildering depiction of a mass-murdering dictator made the book come across as soft propaganda. If you'd only read the comic, you'd believe that Fidel was a fair and just revolutionary who was persecuted by the 'evil' Americans, which 'forced' him to commit crimes against his fellow Cubans. The artist and author conveniently leave out Castro's persecution of gay people, putting dissidents into prison work camps and/or killing them.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    An interesting graphic novel part history part surmised. Black and white illustrations have a lot of movement and intensity and are perfect for most of the 1950s to 1970s parts of the work. A good introduction to Castro but doesn't really leave you feeling like the whole story is covered by a longshot. A quick evening of reading.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nashwa S

    I gave this book four stars because I really enjoyed it. I’ve always had a weird fascination with Cuba - which may not be so strange in retrospect considering its history and being under a trade embargo for over fifty years. One thing that helps before going into this book is knowing a bit about the Cuban revolution before because the initial chapter can be quite confusing. Divided into three sections, this book focuses on the pre-revolution Cuba, Cuba during the revolution and after the revolut I gave this book four stars because I really enjoyed it. I’ve always had a weird fascination with Cuba - which may not be so strange in retrospect considering its history and being under a trade embargo for over fifty years. One thing that helps before going into this book is knowing a bit about the Cuban revolution before because the initial chapter can be quite confusing. Divided into three sections, this book focuses on the pre-revolution Cuba, Cuba during the revolution and after the revolution. It draws on the charismatic leadership of Fidel Castro, how he aspired to take over the government from a young age and succeeded. It also focuses on the shift in his politics and personality - as he became more ruthless in both as time passed and the situation of the country deteriorated drastically under his rule. It records the history well - with Castro going from a revered leader to a tyrant of sorts. The fact that it is told from an outsider's perspective - a German journalist who chose to stay in Cuba - adds to the charm!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    This book is a good start for anyone interested in Cuba's struggle. The graphic novel is presented chiefly from the struggle within Cuba. Outside influences such as the USA and Russia are presented as catalysts for change after Castro takes power. The illustrations are interesting, thick black lines and edges are applied on most frames. The best were some of the speech scenes as bold text sprays from Castro's limbs. The graphics flow from the distinctive caricature elements of the characters. Che This book is a good start for anyone interested in Cuba's struggle. The graphic novel is presented chiefly from the struggle within Cuba. Outside influences such as the USA and Russia are presented as catalysts for change after Castro takes power. The illustrations are interesting, thick black lines and edges are applied on most frames. The best were some of the speech scenes as bold text sprays from Castro's limbs. The graphics flow from the distinctive caricature elements of the characters. Che could have been explored more, however his farewell with Castro was very well expressed. Kleist unveiled the women of Cuba a little unfairly. Wives are presented as solipsistic semi-capitalists who can't understand food rationing and are often keen to emigrate. A courageous effort for a graphic novel so I do recommend it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Larissa

    3.5* The drawings were very nice, and the story was interesting enough to keep reading, but it was not written well. The pace was off, there were spelling mistakes, and at times it wasn't very clear what was happening. However, it was still interesting to read about Castro's life.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tanvir Muntasim

    Excellent biographical graphic novel which depicts Castro as a well-meaning, pragmatic, driven but still flawed human being rather than either deifying or vilifying him.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sonic

    When people are vilified by the media, here in the U.S., I know I am getting a distorted picture. So this was not only interesting as a biography, but I felt like I was getting a more objective perspective than what has usually been available. This was well done, much stronger IMO than his Cash bio, which I also enjoyed.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Luke Featherstone

    Castro begins from the perspective of a German Journalist, Karl Mertens. He travels to Cuba to do a story on Fidel Castro and his group of revolutionaries. Enthralled with the energy of the movement, he stays to fight alongside the revolutionaries in the conflicts to come. While frequently touching back on this character, the author delivers a gripping story of Castro and his role in Cuban history. The author examines both the triumphs and defeats of a man who is seen as larger-than-life. It gi Castro begins from the perspective of a German Journalist, Karl Mertens. He travels to Cuba to do a story on Fidel Castro and his group of revolutionaries. Enthralled with the energy of the movement, he stays to fight alongside the revolutionaries in the conflicts to come. While frequently touching back on this character, the author delivers a gripping story of Castro and his role in Cuban history. The author examines both the triumphs and defeats of a man who is seen as larger-than-life. It gives the reader a panoramic view of Castro’s Cuba. On a scale of five stars, this book absolutely deserves five stars. Fidel Castro is such a fascinating person. Reinhard Kleist takes this legend and gives you his perspective. Any book that can take a man like this and put you inside of his head is brilliant. Throughout the story, you empathize with him, sharing his glories and his mistakes. What really make this book stand out is the ending. It concludes with an elderly Castro giving a monologue in his room. He admits his failures and contemplates the inevitability of the world. This book does not force you to make a judgement on him, but rather it reflects on the mortality of everything and everyone. By examining a legacy that has lived through several eras, it truly` gave me a new perspective on the world.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Aleksandra

    Rating: 4. Graphic novel about Fidel's Castro life 🖌 Thick book with black and white illustrations very briefly tells us about Revolution in Cuba and history of Fidel Castro from his childhood till retirement years. This book is a good start to explore happenings in Cuba during those years, but do not expect to get a very deep understanding about him or people who followed him during the path. Also, for an unaware person this book might be confusing, because I couldn't fully follow some of chara Rating: 4. Graphic novel about Fidel's Castro life 🖌 Thick book with black and white illustrations very briefly tells us about Revolution in Cuba and history of Fidel Castro from his childhood till retirement years. This book is a good start to explore happenings in Cuba during those years, but do not expect to get a very deep understanding about him or people who followed him during the path. Also, for an unaware person this book might be confusing, because I couldn't fully follow some of characters as they appeared very briefly, without introduction. I had to google quite often to get a fuller picture. I think, this is just a side effect of book being a graphical representation.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jamandelb

    Not as much immediately obvious for students to comment on in a literary study, compared to Persepolis as the text to beat. Feels much more non-fiction (which it does purport to be) than anything symbolic or artistically daring — he has illustrated what these various people did. A few interesting cinematic moments playing with overlapping time. His art and manner of aging characters throughout, though, often made the main faces hard to pick out quickly so one can occasionally get lost in the con Not as much immediately obvious for students to comment on in a literary study, compared to Persepolis as the text to beat. Feels much more non-fiction (which it does purport to be) than anything symbolic or artistically daring — he has illustrated what these various people did. A few interesting cinematic moments playing with overlapping time. His art and manner of aging characters throughout, though, often made the main faces hard to pick out quickly so one can occasionally get lost in the conversations. Requires some knowledge of events beforehand. I wouldn’t teach this, though I could pick up his Olympic Dream as a simple supplementary text with Persepolis.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    An overview of Castro's rise to power from the perspective of a fictional journalist who is a part of the revolution and lives in Cuba as a result. A great introduction to an important part of history that relates directly to some key events in America's history. I could see it even being part of a high school history curriculum, spurring students to further research and reading.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Myat Thura Aung

    A biography of Fidel Castro weaved within a dramatic narrative of a German journalist and a Cuban girl who served the revolutionary force against the Batista regime.Remarkably, the fictitious elements of this graphic novel ventures to take us to the realm of truths where an objective, personally detached account dare not and cannot take us.

  15. 5 out of 5

    J

    Surpassingly human and moving, the book presents Castro as a complex figure, inspiring, enraging, duplicitous, honorable, brave, regretful, and full of revolutionary fervor and honor. The last few pages as he approached death were rather touching while the damage to his own life the perpetuated is also not shrunk from.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Hallie Yam

    If you already know a lot about Fidel Castro and his history in Cuba, this will be a fun read. If you are reading it to learn more about Castro, I would read another book first, and then this graphic novel.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Vince

    A compelling summary of the history of Cuba as moulded by Castro. Told from the point of view of a fictional journalist who is sympathetic to Castro's initial revolutionary ideals, the story evolves to show how Castro dispensed the same injustice he'd opposed, and how quickly. Four stars.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Romany

    Fascinating and entertaining way to learn about Cuban history.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Steffy

    An interesting story and a smooth read. It did a good job of not over-interpreting events and allowing the reader to come to his own conclusions.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Helen Yu

    The emotional angle of this story kept bringing me back. It wasn't just a history chronicle, so I won't judge it like one.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Boris Jalusic

    Cool comic on the development of the Castro`s Cuban revolution movement. Cool comic on the development of the Castro`s Cuban revolution movement.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Orion

    While this book is sold as the life of Fidel Castro, it is also the life of a fictional German journalist named Karl Mertens. Reinhard Kleist tells the story of Castro's Cuba as seen through Mertens' eyes as he covers the rise to power and life of Fidel Castro, and its effect on the life of the Cubans around him. As the book opens we see an aged Mertens reminiscing about his life in Cuba. He thinks back to the day he landed in Cuba as a young journalist on his first assignment in October 1958 to While this book is sold as the life of Fidel Castro, it is also the life of a fictional German journalist named Karl Mertens. Reinhard Kleist tells the story of Castro's Cuba as seen through Mertens' eyes as he covers the rise to power and life of Fidel Castro, and its effect on the life of the Cubans around him. As the book opens we see an aged Mertens reminiscing about his life in Cuba. He thinks back to the day he landed in Cuba as a young journalist on his first assignment in October 1958 to cover events involving the Castro-led rebels in the Sierra Maestra mountains of eastern Cuba. He arranges passage to the east and spends several days with the rebel forces, interviews Castro to find out the principles of the fight, and talks to several of his followers to learn Castro's early life. The days pass and Karl becomes involved with the rebels on a deeper level and, losing his journalistic objectivity, he become an active participant in the fight, not with a gun, but with his pen and his camera. He relates the story of Castro's rise to power and the transformation of the revolution into communism, the disruption of relations with the USA and the alliance with the USSR, and the major events in Cuba since Castro came to power. He also tells of Karl's relationships with his friends Juan and Lara, people he met during the early days of the rebellion. Through the lives of these three people we see the day-to-day life in Cuba and its effects on the people. The shortages caused by the embargo, the restrictions on dissent and social freedom take their toll on these friendships as Karl remains committed to the ideals of the revolution. Finally we see Karl and Castro reflecting on their lives and the choices they have made: two old men looking at their lives and wondering. Originally publish in Germany, this is an English translation. Castro is one of the leading Wester Hemisphere figures of the second half of the Twentieth Century. This book provides an accessible and engaging look into the man and the country that he shaped and is well-worth reading.

  23. 5 out of 5

    John Wang

    Overview The graphic novel is a biography of Fidel Castro, the former leader of communist Cuba, so it is also a collection of major events happened in Cuba after the revolution. Castro's story is told through the narration of a German journalist, Karl Martens. The book also tells the story of Karl, who went to Cuba to report about the revolution. He traveled to Sierra Maestra to interview Castro and his guerilla. He also met a girl, Lara, in Castro's guerilla. After the revolution succeeded, Karl Overview The graphic novel is a biography of Fidel Castro, the former leader of communist Cuba, so it is also a collection of major events happened in Cuba after the revolution. Castro's story is told through the narration of a German journalist, Karl Martens. The book also tells the story of Karl, who went to Cuba to report about the revolution. He traveled to Sierra Maestra to interview Castro and his guerilla. He also met a girl, Lara, in Castro's guerilla. After the revolution succeeded, Karl decide to stay in Cuba to witness the history. Personal Response Castro is one of the most controversial political figures after WW2. People from third world countries sometimes regard him as an anti-imperialist hero, while Westerners consider him as a brutal dictator. However, the author of this graphic novel takes a neutral perspective by recording things that had happened without analyzing them. It is also interesting to notice that everything in the book is related to Castro even though the author talks a lot about the narrator's experiences. These could be considered as a reflection of how Castro's actions affect on average Cuban citizens. In addition, the comic genre is very unique for such topics. As it is not easy to understand someone like Fidel Castro, the nicely drawn images emphasize Castro's characteristics and could help us to learn about Castro better. However, I think some characters have similar appearances in the book, which makes it a little confusing to read. Response to a review Link: http://www.goodcomicbooks.com/reviews... The review noticed that in the beginning of the graphic novel, the narrator reminds being told that journalists should remain neutral. It is a very interesting detail because the narrator, Karl, became a firm supporter of the revolution while the author remains neutral successfully. This is a review from a comic book website, so the review writer spent some time discussing about the artistic parts of the book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Rovira

    This graphic novel is fascinating. It presents a well-rounded saga of the Cuban revolution and the Fidel Castro story. It is a human story. The drawings, although black and white, nevertheless provide a vivid picture of the characters and actions. I enjoyed it more than I think I would enjoy a more traditional biography of Castro or otherwise scholarly telling of Cuban history. I found that the pictures added to the sense of it as an essentially human story. It is about real people, who have str This graphic novel is fascinating. It presents a well-rounded saga of the Cuban revolution and the Fidel Castro story. It is a human story. The drawings, although black and white, nevertheless provide a vivid picture of the characters and actions. I enjoyed it more than I think I would enjoy a more traditional biography of Castro or otherwise scholarly telling of Cuban history. I found that the pictures added to the sense of it as an essentially human story. It is about real people, who have struggled and suffered and endured.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Graeme

    I reviewed this graphic novel on the blog I co-run here: https://erstwhileblog.com/2017/04/27/... "In Castro, Kleist invents a protagonist, German photographic journalist Karl Mertens, that allows Kleist to tell Castro’s story and the story of the Revolution from a distance. Mertens follows in New York Times reporter Herbert Matthews’s footsteps to interview Castro in the Sierra Maestra mountains in 1958 during the rebellion against Batista’s dictatorship. There, Mertens becomes enamored of the gu I reviewed this graphic novel on the blog I co-run here: https://erstwhileblog.com/2017/04/27/... "In Castro, Kleist invents a protagonist, German photographic journalist Karl Mertens, that allows Kleist to tell Castro’s story and the story of the Revolution from a distance. Mertens follows in New York Times reporter Herbert Matthews’s footsteps to interview Castro in the Sierra Maestra mountains in 1958 during the rebellion against Batista’s dictatorship. There, Mertens becomes enamored of the guerrillas’ movement and, ultimately, remains in Cuba for the rest of his life. Through this contrivance, Kleist examines the history of the Cuban Revolution and Castro’s rule. Kleist’s artwork is appropriately realistic and often moving. He effectively captures Castro’s dynamic gestures and his charismatic countenance.... Kleist does an admirable job recounting the history of the Cuban Revolution, but his artwork is the real strength of the book...."

  26. 5 out of 5

    Devon H

    These drawings were in a very different style than what I am used to seeing for graphic novels, but the style was very pertinent to the story line. Lots of sharp angles, and the style fit in perfectly with the way Castro and Che are portrayed in the media. A biography, this story was told from a fictional perspective of a photo journalist who traveled alongside Castro during the Cuban revolution and told the biographical story of Castro’s life, adventures and misadventures. I like how the author These drawings were in a very different style than what I am used to seeing for graphic novels, but the style was very pertinent to the story line. Lots of sharp angles, and the style fit in perfectly with the way Castro and Che are portrayed in the media. A biography, this story was told from a fictional perspective of a photo journalist who traveled alongside Castro during the Cuban revolution and told the biographical story of Castro’s life, adventures and misadventures. I like how the author portrayed both the good and the bad sides to the Revolution and socialism, as to say it is either entirely bad or entirely good is obviously inaccurate, as we can see from Cuba’s recently very rich history of trial and error. I loved the chance to hear some of the more personal stories from Castro’s life, particularly his youth. Some of the parts about war I breezed through, as those don’t appeal to me, although I believe they were fairly accurately depicted and not overly dramatized.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rosaleen Lynch

    Having been in Havana last year I appreciated the artist impression of a city which has changed little since Castro came to power. Settings like the Coppelia ice-cream parlour and the Malecon waterfront along with the 50s cars brought the story alive and will give the reader who hasn't been to Cuba a sense of what it looks and feels like even now. Castro's story is told in a fairly even handed way, balancing ideals and failure to live up to ideals in the rise and fall, that comes from the movemen Having been in Havana last year I appreciated the artist impression of a city which has changed little since Castro came to power. Settings like the Coppelia ice-cream parlour and the Malecon waterfront along with the 50s cars brought the story alive and will give the reader who hasn't been to Cuba a sense of what it looks and feels like even now. Castro's story is told in a fairly even handed way, balancing ideals and failure to live up to ideals in the rise and fall, that comes from the movement from simple to more complex problems and solutions.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Hillingdon Libraries

    Find this book at Hillingdon Libraries Find this book at Hillingdon Libraries

  29. 4 out of 5

    Cayden

    Takeways: Che Guevara is a fucking moron, Fidel Castro is a prideful asshole who can't admit when he's wrong, and reality trumps idealism. Props to Obama, though. I really can't wait for the younger generations of Cuba call bullshit on Castro's garbage and put an end to it.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Germancho

    Great stuff; it's an unbiased and powerful account of the history of Castro and the Cuban revolution. It has a really rough (and implausible) beginning, but after 80 or so pages it finds its stride.

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