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Miami by Joan Didion
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Miami (original 1987; edition 1998)

by Joan Didion (Author)

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449842,204 (3.69)16
An astonishing account of Cuban exiles, CIA informants, and cocaine traffickers in Florida by the New York Times-bestselling author of South and West. In Miami, the National Book Award-winning author of The Year of Magical Thinking looks beyond postcard images of fluorescent waters, backlit islands, and pastel architecture to explore the murkier waters of a city on the edge.   From Fidel Castro and the Bay of Pigs invasion to Lee Harvey Oswald and the Kennedy assassination to Oliver North and the Iran-Contra affair, Joan Didion uncovers political intrigues and shadowy underworld connections, and documents the US government's "seduction and betrayal" of the Cuban exile community in Dade County. She writes of hotels that offer "guerrilla discounts," gun shops that advertise Father's Day deals, and a real-estate market where "Unusual Security and Ready Access to the Ocean" are perks for wealthy homeowners looking to make a quick escape. With a booming drug trade, staggering racial and class inequities, and skyrocketing murder rates, Miami in the 1980s felt more like a Third World capital than a modern American city. Didion describes the violence, passion, and paranoia of these troubled times in arresting detail and "beautifully evocative prose" (The New York Times Book Review).   A vital report on an immigrant community traumatized by broken dreams and the cynicism of US foreign policy, Miami is a masterwork of literary journalism whose insights are timelier and more important than ever.  … (more)
Member:Leena04
Title:Miami
Authors:Joan Didion (Author)
Info:Vintage (1998), Edition: 1st Vintage International ed, 240 pages
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Miami by Joan Didion (1987)

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After a brief historical background of Cuban presidents retiring to Miami after being ousted from power, Didion turns her eye on the Miami and Florida of the mid-1980’s, to write about American covert (or not so covert) interference in Cuba in the 1960’s to Nicaragua in the 1980’s, and how this flows from the need for “issues” in Washington.
Being a British reader, I had only an awareness of the Cuban and Nicaraguan conflicts being discussed, and although the specifics now appear historical, the political story of Washington is as relevant as ever.
Based around essays written for The New York Review of Books, this work has dated more than Didion’s Salvador (1983), but is equally stylish in drawing out the stories to be told, and then leaving the reader to draw their own conclusions.
For example quoting a Miami Cuban called Carlos Luis talking about Albert Camus (but intended more generally):
As time goes by I think that men who were unable to make choices were more right than those who made them. Because there are no clean choices.
Completing this quote after two pages of Didion’s considerations: “There are no choices at all.( )
  CarltonC | Mar 9, 2021 |
In memory of lost family, Didion late great journalistic observations of Miami culture. Sociology style reporting with an index at back. ( )
  atufft | Jul 4, 2019 |
It took me some time to navigate Didion's true focus for Miami. I was expecting an overarching, historical portrait of a city in Florida which is rich in culture and diversity, today and yesterday. Instead, Miami started out as a tirade about how Cubans in Miami are often ignored (when they aren't being misunderstood). Cuban ethnicity is left out of the equation when Anglos describe Miami. The naive gringos err on the side of stereotypes or misconception when trying to describe or name something that is uniquely Cuban. I wasn't expecting this us against them narrative. It is more accurate to say Didion's Miami is about the Cuban Exile Community, past and present. Didion moves the reader directly into the eye of a political hurricane which is in a nutshell government conspiracies and corruptions, the underbelly of wheeling and dealing like failed and successful assassinations. Organized crime and car bombs that go boom in the night. Bay of Pigs. Watergate. Ronald Reagan. Nightmares in the light of day. Sunny Miami.

I am distracted easily. Put in front of me a sentence that is too long winded and my mind starts to wander and my eyes jump all over the page, forgetting what I just tried to read. Miami is full of crazy long (in my mind run-on) sentences that drove me to distraction. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Aug 28, 2017 |
Marvelous exposer of American under-the-table deals. The whole time during Castro we pretended to help the Miami Cubans get their country back, we had already made a deal with the Russians to leave Fidel alone. Didion is a great digger: knows how to get into a group and get the truth like she did with Slouching Towards Bethlehem. ( )
  paleporter | Aug 27, 2017 |
Everything Didion writes is gold. ( )
  essjay1 | Jan 11, 2017 |
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An astonishing account of Cuban exiles, CIA informants, and cocaine traffickers in Florida by the New York Times-bestselling author of South and West. In Miami, the National Book Award-winning author of The Year of Magical Thinking looks beyond postcard images of fluorescent waters, backlit islands, and pastel architecture to explore the murkier waters of a city on the edge.   From Fidel Castro and the Bay of Pigs invasion to Lee Harvey Oswald and the Kennedy assassination to Oliver North and the Iran-Contra affair, Joan Didion uncovers political intrigues and shadowy underworld connections, and documents the US government's "seduction and betrayal" of the Cuban exile community in Dade County. She writes of hotels that offer "guerrilla discounts," gun shops that advertise Father's Day deals, and a real-estate market where "Unusual Security and Ready Access to the Ocean" are perks for wealthy homeowners looking to make a quick escape. With a booming drug trade, staggering racial and class inequities, and skyrocketing murder rates, Miami in the 1980s felt more like a Third World capital than a modern American city. Didion describes the violence, passion, and paranoia of these troubled times in arresting detail and "beautifully evocative prose" (The New York Times Book Review).   A vital report on an immigrant community traumatized by broken dreams and the cynicism of US foreign policy, Miami is a masterwork of literary journalism whose insights are timelier and more important than ever.  

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