The Yankee Comandante. The romance, bravery and tragedy of the Cuban Revolution.

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With President Obama’s announcement that he will normalize relations with Cuba, 2015 could well mark the downfall of the Castro regime.  As in the case of the late German Democratic Republic, the exposure to American culture and consumer capitalism will stoke uncontrollable protest, leading to the crumbling of another outpost of Communism.

The release of
The Yankee Comandante (Rowman & Littlefield) by  Michael Sallah and Mitch Weiss, former Toledo Blade staffers, could not be more timely.   Subtitled The Untold Story of Courage, Passion, and One American’s Fight to Liberate Cuba, the book is the story of William Morgan, the “Americano” who joined the Revolution and was destroyed by it.

Kicked out of the U.S. Army with a dishonorable discharge for desertion, Morgan was unable to rebuild his life in his native Toledo.  After a flirtation with the mob (what would a Cuba story be without the mob?). Morgan left his parents, his estranged wife, and his two children to join the Revolution.

In Miami he linked up with the rebels.  In 1958 he flew to Havana, then made his way to the mountains, where he joined up with the Second National Front of the Escambray, which operated in the central part of the country. 

Reckless and brave, Morgan used his military training and superb marksmanship to build a guerrilla force.   In the mountains he met Olga, a militant student leader who fled her hometown just ahead of the police.  There begins a tragic love story.

The Second National Front was a competitor to Fidel Castro’s 26th of July Movement, which led guerrilla operations in the Sierra Maestra on the eastern end of the island.  

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The Trabant:  Why the German Democratic Republic fell.

After the triumph of the Revolution, the competition between the two movements led to disaster for Morgan.   Apart from personal rivalries, the Second National Front wanted democratic elections, whereas the 26th of July Movement veered towards dictatorship and Communism.  

Therein begins a tale of international plots, the mob, double agents, and counterrevolution. 

In March 1961, Morgan’s life ended before a firing squad in the historic La Cabana fortress.  Olga spent nearly 12 years in prison. She left Cuba in 1980 in the Mariel boatlift.  She settled in Toledo with their two children and remarried.
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The Edsel.  Why Cuba will fall.

The Yankee Comandante is well researched.  Using Olga’s handwritten unpublished memoir, interviews with Morgan’s comrades from the Second National Front of the Escambray, and documents from the FBI and the CIA, Sallah and Weiss have recreated battle scenes, family stories, plots, and counterplots.

The Yankee Comandante is a fast-paced adventure story, a spy thriller better than fiction.  Viva La Revolucion.