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Cuba Libre

Cover of Cuba Libre

Cuba Libre

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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.

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.

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Awards-
About the Author-
  • Elmore Leonard has written more than forty books during his highly successful writing career, including the bestsellers Road Dogs, Up in Honey's Room, The Hot Kid, Mr. Paradise, and Tishomingo Blues, and the critically acclaimed collection of short stories When the Women Come Out to Dance. Many of his books have been made into movies, including Get Shorty, Out of Sight, and Be Cool. Justified, the new hit series from FX, is based on Leonard's character Raylan Givens, who appears in Riding the Rap, Pronto, and the story "Fire in the Hole." Leonard is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from PEN USA and the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. He lives with his wife, Christine, in Bloomfield Village, Michigan.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from December 29, 1997
    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 characters--even Tavalera has real style--and 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.

  • AudioFile Magazine The bestselling author of Get Shorty and Mr. Majestik here turns to the Spanish-American War. A cowboy turned arms smuggler finds himself in Cuba at the outbreak of the war, battling the Spanish "Guardia," a villainous American capitalist and morally suspect revolutionaries. He also falls for the mistress of the capitalist, adding to his complications. Henry Leyva uses his facility with accents well and doesn't stint on the thrills and chills. This abridgment, however, gives him no chance to show what he can do with characterization. There isn't any to speak of. However, the incidents themselves provide plenty of interest, as do the thoroughly researched period details. The producers gild the lily a bit with background music, punching up passages that need no punching up. Y.R. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine
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  • Publisher
    HarperCollins
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Cuba Libre
Cuba Libre
Elmore Leonard
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