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The Sugar King of Havana: The Rise and Fall…

The Sugar King of Havana: The Rise and Fall of Julio Lobo, Cuba's Last…

by John Paul Rathbone, John Paul Rathbone

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1091179,598 (3.45)None
In this dual history of a man and a nation, Financial Times journalist John Paul Rathbone uses the stranger-than-fiction story of Julio Lobo, a Cuban sugar magnate who controlled the world sugar market throughout much of the first half of the 20th century, to reveal the luxuries enjoyed by the elite class in pre-revolutionary Cuba.… (more)



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The author of this book (a distant relative of my husband) is the son of a British father and a Cuban mother and, after listening to his mother's wistful stories about Cuba in the pre-Castro days, developed his own nostalgia for the island despite never having been there. His mother was friends with the youngest daughter of Julio Lobo, the "Sugar King of Havana" who at one time controlled the trade in sugar from Cuba and became one of the richest men in that country.

The book tells of Lobo's rise from his childhood at the time of the Spanish-American War through his the building of his empire in the 1930's and 1940's to the inevitable fall after FIdel Castro came to power in 1959. Along the way he paints a vivid portrait of a country and a way of life that is long gone and now only seen in history books and depictions in the movies.

At times, the book got way too detailed about the machinations of Lobo's speculative deals, but Rathbone's vivid portrait of Cuba in the "old days" more than made up for that failing. ( )
  etxgardener | Aug 22, 2013 |
Although Mr. Rathbone... occasionally romanticizes Lobo and his world, he gives us a richly detailed portrait of this complicated, conflicted man while deftly weaving a thumbnail history of modern Cuba into Lobo’s story. He leaves the reader with a palpable sense of the glittering and increasingly violent world that this “new sugar magus” and his family inhabited, and conveys both the profound emotional dislocations of exile and the dangers and persistence of nostalgia.

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Paul Rathboneprimary authorall editionscalculated
Rathbone, John Paulmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Tantor Media

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