Cuba Libre Mass Market Paperback – Jan 12 1999
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Elmore Leonard has a long track record of creating memorable characters--enough to bring life to many movies, the two most notable being Get Shorty and Jackie Brown(based on Leonard's Rum Punch). Both are pretty good movies, but the novels are much better. Today Leonard writes mostly "crime" novels, labeled as such because his characters struggle to be good in a world so full of temptation that some kind of crime is always involved.
Cuba Libre finds Leonard reaching for a broader audience than those which appreciated either his crime novels or the westerns he once wrote, which he accomplishes by combining elements of both. Ben Tyler is a cowboy who robs banks, but only those that contain money of people who owe but won't pay him--he only takes what they owe. Charlie Burke is a businessman who buys horses cheap in the west, then sells them to exporters, while heroine Amelia Brown is the mistress of one of the truly bad men in the novel and struggles with dilemmas similar to those endured by other cast members.
Begining around the time that the Maine is sunk in Havana Harbor and ending when Teddy and others storm San Juan Hill, the story is at its best when its colorful characters are turned loose in one of the novel's colorful settings. If you like Leonard, you'll love Cuba Libre, and if--for some reason--you haven't yet discovered the author, prepare for a real treat. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From School Library Journal
YA-This book has something to interest almost everyone. Set against the rich and compelling backdrop of Cuba during its struggle for independence, the story includes bank robbery, cattle rustling, love, suspense, and action-packed adventure. Realistic, memorable characters come to life in the scheming twists and turns of a complex plot. Leonard writes in an easy-to-follow style; his bad guys are truly BAD, and readers find themselves rooting for the hero and heroine as they hide, the Spanish Civil guards in hot pursuit. The plot is larded with history, beginning with the sinking of the USS Maine in the harbor of Havana, and ending with Roosevelt and his Rough Riders's charge up San Juan Hill. A rare glimpse of the Spanish-American War and the fight for Cuban independence.
Anita Short, W. T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Charley, Ben, the lovely Amelia, her evil keeper, the Spanish captors and the homeric insurrectionists (ocassionally they swap moralities), all coalesce on the island of Cuba a few days after the USS Maine is blown up in the harbor.
This is Leanord at his best: Colorfully, flawed characters, women who love hard, oftentimes for the wrong man, evildoers with streaks of decency, downtrodden individuals with streaks of evil, fabulous booty that's chased, followed, captured, lost, gained, lost again, regained, and the type of dialogue that from time to time makes you put the book down, repeat the line to yourself, and smile.
Just like Hammet, Chandler, DeMille, and Parker, you have to first like Leonard. If you do, this is a master at the heighth of his craft. Enjoy.
There were some chapters that dragged or weren't of much interest. But the story was deep enough that none of that mattered much. The middle of the story involves a large amount of ransom money for a fake kidnapping, and the heroes' pursuit of said money. Things start getting exciting, as everyone in the story has their own seperate scheme. It builds and builds and then.....
...it ends. It ends badly. Not badly as in bad for the characters, but bad as in shoddy writing. I firmly believe Leonard had some sort of deadline and had to wrap the novel up in an hour. There's really no other explanation.
So, overall, what you get in Cuba Libre is a pretty good story with a bad ending. It would make a pretty good film if they would change the ending so that it had a tangible climax. Except I just know the producers would cast Matthew McConaughey, or Mark Wahlberg, or Ben Affleck, or someone else that wouldn't fit at all.
The book's concept is an intriguing one. Take some Americans in Cuba who are directly and indirectly involved in the Spanish-American War, and use that plot complication to develop their relationships and characters. The execution unfortunately falls short of the full potential of the concept.
The Americans and Cuban revolutionaries are pretty cynically "in it for the money" whenever there is any to be made. Their sense of honor is most seriously engaged when they are not being treated fairly in business dealings. Ho hum!
The book's action begins with the American battleship, Maine, recently sunk in Havana's harbor. Two Americans have arrived ostensibly to sell some horses and cattle, but really to smuggle in weapons for the Cuban revolutionaries who oppose the Spanish. Things start to go wrong when the Spanish offend one of the Americans, leading to a shooting. Matters get worse when the horse buyer reneges on his offer of full payment.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
i read "cuba libre" because a friend left it behind after moving away from my city and i'd never read an elmore leonard novel, though i'd heard of him many times... Read morePublished on Oct. 3 2002 by private__
Typical Elmore Leonard's crime genre, set against Spanish American war of 1898. Ben Tyler, a gun runner from Arizona is enticed by his friend Charlie Burke to bring horses to Cuba... Read morePublished on Sept. 28 2002 by Vijay B. Kumar
Just because this novel is mediocre shouldn't discourage Elmore Leonard from settings such as Cuba in 1898. Read morePublished on Sept. 25 2002 by Quickhappy
My motivation for picking up my first Elmore Leonard novel lies with my love for the movies "Out of Sight" and "Get Shorty. Read morePublished on Feb. 15 2002
I'm not a huge fan of Mr. Leonard's work, but I like a good historical novel and a good crime novel, so I gave this a whirl. Read morePublished on Aug. 17 2001 by Simon DelMonte
the on you start with. If you have you'll be disappointed. I read the first two hundred pages on a flight to Las Vegas and didn't bother with the other half on the way back. Read morePublished on June 26 2001 by Galwayk
Read All the Pretty Horses and then Cuba Libre and tell me they are not nearly the same story. Nonetheless they both rock. Read morePublished on May 29 2001
It's difficult to say what the worst feature of this book is. But it's probably the uninspired dialogue. Or it might be the superficial and banal characters. Read morePublished on Oct. 17 2000