The Americano: Fighting with Castro for Cuba's Freedom

Algonquin Books
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The untold story of William Morgan, the man who left Ohio to become a high-ranking leader in Fidel Castro’s rebel army: “Reads like a great epic novel” (Carlos Eire, author of Waiting for Snow in Havana).
 
When William Morgan was twenty-two years old, he was working as a high school janitor in Toledo, Ohio. Seven years later, in 1958, he walked into a rebel camp in the Cuban jungle to join the revolutionaries in their fight to overthrow the corrupt Cuban president, Fulgencio Batista.
 
The rebels were wary of the broad-shouldered, blond-haired, blue-eyed Americano—but Morgan’s dedication and passion, his military skill and charisma, led him to become a chief comandante in Castro’s army. He was the only foreigner to hold such a rank, with the exception of Che Guevara. Based on interviews with his friends, family, and former fellow rebels, as well as FBI and CIA documents, this is the remarkable story of his journey—and how it ended in 1961, when at the age of thirty-two, he was executed by firing squad at the hands of Fidel Castro.
 
“William Morgan, an American who made his way to the front line of Castro’s revolution in Cuba, gets thorough and entertaining treatment in this biography. Largely unknown in the U.S., his story is filled with the suspense of a blockbuster war movie, offering new and insightful perspective into the political climate of 1950s Cuba . . . [turns] the intriguing story of one man into a thoughtful examination of 20th-century Cuban history.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
 
“A figure straight out of Hemingway.” —Kirkus Reviews
 
The Americano’s strength lies in explaining how the three anti-Batista forces constantly jockeyed for supremacy and influence. . . . Shetterly nicely weaves FBI, CIA and State Department files on Morgan into his narrative.” —The Washington Post Book World
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About the author

Aran Shetterly attended Harvard College and the University of Southern Maine, where he completed a master's degree in American studies. He is on the board of the Americans Who Tell the Truth organization and the Union of Maine Visual Artists, for which he conceived, organized, and ran an exchange between artists from Maine and Cuba. He lives in Mexico, where he and his wife founded Inside Mexico, an English-language newspaper.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Algonquin Books
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Published on
Aug 10, 2007
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9781565128521
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Political
History / Caribbean & West Indies / Cuba
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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William Morgan, a tough-talking ex-paratrooper, stunned family and friends when in 1957 he left Ohio to join freedom fighters in the mountains of Cuba. He led one band of guerrillas, and Che Guevara another, and together they swept through the country, ultimately forcing corrupt dictator Fulgencio Batista from power. In just a year of fighting, the American revolutionary had altered the landscape of the Cold War. But Morgan believed they were fighting to liberate Cuba. Then Fidel Castro canceled elections, seized properties, and imprisoned Morgan’s fellow freedom fighters. Even Morgan’s own house mysteriously blew up. But The Comandante is about more than just the revolution. It’s the story of two people in love, pressured by government agents and mobsters vying to control a nation that soon brought the world to the brink of nuclear destruction. In the mountains, Morgan met Olga Rodriguez, a beautiful, fiery nurse, whom he soon married. Together, amid their firestorm romance, they decided to take a stand and take back the government from Castro and Guevara. The newlyweds began running arms to prepare for a counterrevolution, soon caught in a cloak-and-dagger web among Castro’s forces; the Mob, which controlled Havana; and the CIA’s preparations for the Bay of Pigs Invasion. But one of Morgan’s guards betrayed him to Castro, who threw the counterrevolutionary in prison, placing his wife and their two daughters under house arrest. The couple smuggled secret messages to each other until Olga ultimately escaped by drugging her captors. Before she could free her husband, though, a junta tribunal tried and sentenced him to death by firing squad. Drawing on declassified FBI, CIA, and Army intelligence records as well as Olga’s diaries, Pulitzer Prize–winning authors Michael Sallah and Mitch Weiss skillfully reveal the inner workings of the Cuban Revolution while detailing the incredible love story of a rebel nurse and an American street hero who left their mark on history.
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