Cuba Classics Hardcover – Jan 1 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
In this paean to the vintage car, Baker, who has also provided the photos, juxtaposes American autos against the backdrop of Cuba to great effect. "Today, Cuba possesses about 450,000 cars, of which one-sixth are pre-revolutionary American autos dating back to the 20s and 30s," he writes. Most of the cars pictured here, however, come from the 1950s: a pristine-looking green 1950 Chevrolet Styline Bel-Air is parked alongside a gray, weathered house; in the foreground an old man in a straw hat walks by eating from two ice cream cones. Not all of the photos are of the best quality (there are random, grainy pictures of people on the streets and free-frame photos of cars in motion), but overall, the photos effectively capture the beauty of the vintage cars themselves as well as the country that keeps them running. This photographic history is a nice companion to Bakers award-winning travel memoir, Mi Moto Fidel: Motorcycling Through Castros Cuba.
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Travel writer Baker has been to Cuba 20 times to research books, and one of the more fascinating aspects of contemporary Cuba did not escape his notice: it is the "largest American car museum in the world." Before Castro, particularly in the 1940s and 1950s, Cuba imported a vast number of cars from the U.S, but since the embargo, no more cars can be brought across the Florida Strait. Consequently, the islanders are left to make do--to repair and relish the cars they owned before the embargo. Baker's lively text and rousing photographs give a palpable sense of the "time warp" experienced by tourists to today's Cuba as they, say, spot a 1952 Ford Victoria, catch a glimpse of a 1955 Chrysler New Yorker, or closely observe a 1959 Studebaker Lark. The photographs are the major draw here, for Baker catches these prized vehicles, most held together only by a creative use of spare parts, in full-length profiles, up-close details, at rest, or zooming by on street and road. Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Before 1959 Cuba was the hottest spot in the Caribbean, notorious for its glittering casinos, smooth rum, fabulous beaches, beautiful women, and a caliente nightlife compared to which all others seemed fainthearted efforts. Read the first page Browse Sample Pages
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The photos also show some of Cuba, a beautiful island that we should never have lost as our friend. The photos, history and stories captivated me and I just sat down and spent two hours reading the book. I didn't want put it down.
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