CNN’s man in Havana opens a door to island nation in ‘This Is Cuba’

These days, a visit to Cuba conjures up romantic strolls to see the picturesque buildings of Havana or tooling around in 1950s American jalopies amid strains of some of the world’s best live music.

But the reality is different for those who actually live there.

“This Is Cuba,” a memoir by journalist David Ariosto (St. Martin’s Press, 273 pp., ★★★ out of four), goes deep behind the sugar-cane wall of an island nation where resilient yet poor people have struggled to eke out decent lives under the iron fist of Fidel Castro and later, his brother Raul.

Like North Korea, Cuba clings to communism long after most of the rest of the world has left it behind.

Ariosto arrived in Havana for CNN in June 2009, stayed through 2010 and continued to see glimpses of island life by returning on occasion. The phrase “This is Cuba” was the response he received when he asked why life there so often defied logic.

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