The Boys from Dolores
The Boys from Dolores
Fidel Castro's Classmates from Revolution to Exile
Pantheon, Hardcover, 9780375422836, 368pp.
Publication Date: July 10, 2007
From the author of Chasing Che, the remarkable tale of a group of boys at the heart of Cuba's political and social history. The Boys from Dolores illuminates the elite island society from which Fidel Castro and his brother Raul emerged.
The Colegio de Dolores was a Jesuit boarding school in Santiago, Cuba's rich and ancient second city, where Fidel and Raul were educated in the 1930s and '40s. Patrick Symmes begins his story here, tracking down dozens of Fidel's schoolmates glimpsed in a single period photograph. And it is through their stories--their time at the Colegio; the catastrophic effects of the revolution on their lives; their fates since--that Symmes opens a door onto a Cuba, and a time in Castro’s life, that have been deliberately obscured from us. Here too is the elusive Raúl Castro, a cipher destined to rule Cuba in Fidel’s place.
We see Castro in his formative youth, an adolescent ruling the classrooms of the Colegio and running in the streets of Santiago. Symmes traces the years in which the revolution was conceived, won, and lost, describing the changes it wrought in Santiago and in the lives of Fidel’s own classmates: we follow them through the maelstrom of the 1960s, as most fight to leave Cuba and a few stay behind. And here, in Santiago today, Symmes finds Castro’s most lasting achievement, the creating and sustaining of a myth-soaked revolutionary idealism amid the harshest realities of daily life.
Wholly original in its approach, The Boys from Dolores is a powerfully evocative, eye-opening portrait of Cuba--and of the Castro brothers--in the twentieth century.
"Arresting...Idiosyncratic and utterly engaging, this is a book as unusual and interesting as Cuba itself...This is a collective biography, deftly done. But it is also much more...a fascinating travelogue of the Cuban diaspora [and] fine history, too...Symmes tells the story...with alacrity and verve."
--The Times (London)
"Insightful and sobering...What emerges will infuriate many on both sides of the partisan divide, as it is essentially a paean for non-violence on an island unlikely to ever embrace it."
"Symmes's writing is lyrical and evocative; his powerful and complex picture of Cuba and the exile community is well worth reading."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
This is Cuba as we've never seen it, told by a keen observer and a fine writer."
--Tom Miller, author of Trading with the Enemy: A Yankee Travels Through Castro's Cuba