The Best Books About Cuba You Need to Read Before You Visit

A world famous Cuban cigar
A world famous Cuban cigar | © Ba-Su / Pixabay
Photo of Jack Guy
21 May 2018

Prepare for your trip to Cuba by reading a few of these books. Not only will it help you to understand more about the island, it might even inspire you to visit places that you hadn’t thought about before.

Havana: Autobiography of a City by Alfredo Estrada (2007)

This detailed history of the Cuban capital spans centuries and is very enlightening for anyone intrigued by the city of Havana. It’s a place that takes some explaining.

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Street scene in Havana, Cuba | © Pedro Szekely / Flickr

Cuba: What Everyone Needs To Know by Julia Sweig (2016)

Anyone who would like a primer on the complex political history of Cuba would do well to pick up this book. The author is fair in her assessment of the situation, and manages to avoid taking too much of a position on a polarizing nation.

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Pitching Around Fidel by S. L. Price (2014)

Cubans are known for their passion for sports, including baseball and boxing. Here Sports Illustrated writer S.L. Price looks at the reasons for their fervour and meets some of the biggest sporting heroes on a journey through the country.

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Baseball practice at the Estadio Latinoamericano, Havana, Cuba | © Periodico JIT / Flickr

Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba by Tom Gjelten (2009)

The author expertly weaves the story of the famous rum brand, which fled Cuba following the revolution, into that of the country itself. A great read for those wondering why one of the most iconic alcohol companies in the world left the place of its birth.

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Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life by Jon Lee Anderson (2010)

You will see Che Guevara everywhere in Cuba, and this book will explain why. It’s a detailed look at the Argentine revolutionary turned Cuban hero who ended up dying in Bolivia.

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The image of Che is ubiquitous in Havana | © nextvoyage / Pixabay

Adios Hemingway by Leonardo Padura Fuentes (2005)

This novel tells the story of a fictional murder investigation during the final days of famed Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway’s last days in Cuba. It’s a thrilling read.

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Dirty Havana Trilogy by Pedro Juan Gutiérrez (2002)

A fictional account of an ex-radio journalist who turns to vice after falling on hard times, this story earned Gutiérrez comparisons with Charles Bukowski for its gritty realism.

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