100 books like One Day in December

By Nancy Stout,

Here are 100 books that One Day in December fans have personally recommended if you like One Day in December. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of King of Cuba

John Thorndike Author Of A Hundred Fires in Cuba

From my list on Cuba, the Revolution, and Cuban exiles.

Why am I passionate about this?

Over fifty years ago I joined the Peace Corps in El Salvador. I married a Salvadoran woman, and our child was born during our two-year stay on a backcountry farm in Chile. My interest in Latin America has never faded—and in my latest novel, The World Against Her Skin, which is based on my mother’s life, I give her a pair of years in the Peace Corps. But it is Cuba that remains the most fascinating of all the countries south of our border, and of course I had to write about the giant turn it took in 1959, and the men and women who spurred that revolution.

John's book list on Cuba, the Revolution, and Cuban exiles

John Thorndike Why did John love this book?

Cristina Garcia has become the definitive chronicler of both Cuba and Cuban exiles. King of Cuba tells the story of two men: El Comandante (also called the despot, the tyrant, or El Líder—clearly this is Fidel) and a Miami exile, Goyo Herrera, who is as old and infirm as Castro himself. Garcia’s portrait of the desperation and ignominies these two old guys suffer, and of their hopeless attempts to cleave to past glories, transcends Cuban history and brings us two men I found cantankerous and self-inflating, but irresistible.

By Cristina García,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked King of Cuba as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A “darkly hilarious” (Elle) novel about a fictionalized Fidel Castro and an octogenarian Cuban exile obsessed with seeking revenge by the National Book Award finalist Cristina García, this “clever, well-conceived dual portrait shows what connects and divides Cubans inside and outside of the island” (Kirkus Reviews).

Vivid and teeming with life, King of Cuba transports readers to Cuba and Miami, and into the heads of two larger-than-life men: a fictionalized Fidel Castro and an octogenarian Cuban exile obsessed with seeking revenge against the dictator. García’s masterful twinning of these characters combines with a rabble of other Cuban voices to portray…


Book cover of Telex from Cuba

John Thorndike Author Of A Hundred Fires in Cuba

From my list on Cuba, the Revolution, and Cuban exiles.

Why am I passionate about this?

Over fifty years ago I joined the Peace Corps in El Salvador. I married a Salvadoran woman, and our child was born during our two-year stay on a backcountry farm in Chile. My interest in Latin America has never faded—and in my latest novel, The World Against Her Skin, which is based on my mother’s life, I give her a pair of years in the Peace Corps. But it is Cuba that remains the most fascinating of all the countries south of our border, and of course I had to write about the giant turn it took in 1959, and the men and women who spurred that revolution.

John's book list on Cuba, the Revolution, and Cuban exiles

John Thorndike Why did John love this book?

A portrait of the privileged American families living in Cuba just before the Revolution. Their concerns are the United Fruit Company and the sugarcane that surrounds them in Oriente Province, but they are soon to be thrown into tumult by Fidel Castro and his rebel soldiers, who have been building their revolution in the Sierra Maestra. This is a subtle and beautifully-written reminder of how an entire world can be turned upside down, something few in that community saw coming. In these tumultuous days, it sometimes makes me wonder about my own community.

By Rachel Kushner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Telex from Cuba as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

FROM THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE SHORTLISTED AUTHOR OF THE MARS ROOM

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD IN FICTION

Fidel and Raul Castro are in the hills, descending only to burn sugarcane plantations and recruit rebels.

Rachel K is in Havana's Cabaret Tokio, entangled with a French agitator trying to escape his shameful past.

Everly and K.C. are growing up in the dying days of a crumbling US colony, about to discover the cruelty and violence that have created their childhood idyll.


Book cover of Loving Che

John Thorndike Author Of A Hundred Fires in Cuba

From my list on Cuba, the Revolution, and Cuban exiles.

Why am I passionate about this?

Over fifty years ago I joined the Peace Corps in El Salvador. I married a Salvadoran woman, and our child was born during our two-year stay on a backcountry farm in Chile. My interest in Latin America has never faded—and in my latest novel, The World Against Her Skin, which is based on my mother’s life, I give her a pair of years in the Peace Corps. But it is Cuba that remains the most fascinating of all the countries south of our border, and of course I had to write about the giant turn it took in 1959, and the men and women who spurred that revolution.

John's book list on Cuba, the Revolution, and Cuban exiles

John Thorndike Why did John love this book?

A novel that reads like a memoir. After a childhood in Miami, the narrator explores her links to her Cuban past—and what Cuban exile has not done the same? But here are intimate, stimulating scenes that tie us to the Revolution, and in particular to Che Guevara. As Menendez writes, “Every trip to Havana is a dance between wanting to believe in the good of people and protecting oneself from the desperation that poisons every interaction.”

By Ana Menendez,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Loving Che as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this “evocative first novel,” an elderly woman looks back on the world of revolutionary Cuba as she recalls her intimate, secret love affair with Ernesto “Che” Guevara (Publishers Weekly).
 
A young Cuban woman has been searching in vain for details of her birth mother. All she knows of her past is that her grandfather fled the turbulent Havana of the 1960s for Miami with her in tow, and that pinned to her sweater—possibly by her mother—were a few treasured lines of a Pablo Neruda poem. These facts remain her only tenuous links to her history, until a mysterious parcel…


Book cover of Fidel: A Critical Portrait

John Thorndike Author Of A Hundred Fires in Cuba

From my list on Cuba, the Revolution, and Cuban exiles.

Why am I passionate about this?

Over fifty years ago I joined the Peace Corps in El Salvador. I married a Salvadoran woman, and our child was born during our two-year stay on a backcountry farm in Chile. My interest in Latin America has never faded—and in my latest novel, The World Against Her Skin, which is based on my mother’s life, I give her a pair of years in the Peace Corps. But it is Cuba that remains the most fascinating of all the countries south of our border, and of course I had to write about the giant turn it took in 1959, and the men and women who spurred that revolution.

John's book list on Cuba, the Revolution, and Cuban exiles

John Thorndike Why did John love this book?

It was here that I first discovered Camilo Cienfuegos—whom I write about in my book. Camilo was the last of 82 men to board a small yacht, the Granma, which sailed, in November of 1956, from Tuxpan, Mexico to the south shore of Cuba. Fifteen men survived the landing and made their way up into the Sierra Maestra to start the Revolution. This is one of the hemisphere’s most remarkable stories, and Szulc’s book remains the definitive work on Fidel Castro and his campaign to unseat Fulgencio Batista.

By Tad Szulc,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fidel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The outcome of a long, direct relationship, this riveting portrait reveals astonishing and exclusive information about Cuba, the revolution, and the notorious, larger-than-life leader who has ruled his country with an iron fist for more than forty years. Only Tad Szulc could bring Fidel to such vivid life--the loves and losses of the man, the devious tactics of the conspirator, the triumphs and defeats of the revolutionary leader who challenged an American president and brought the world to the brink of nuclear disaster. From Jesuit schools to jungle hideouts and the Palace of the Revolution, here is FIDEL...THE UNTOLD STORY.


Book cover of Revolution within the Revolution: Women and Gender Politics in Cuba, 1952-1962

Rachel Hynson Author Of Laboring for the State: Women, Family, and Work in Revolutionary Cuba, 1959–1971

From my list on defying the narrative of early revolutionary Cuba.

Why am I passionate about this?

As the eldest daughter raised in an Evangelical home in rural Pennsylvania, I was immersed in normative, Anglo notions of gender and the family. I built on this embodied experience to cultivate expertise in discourse about the family and labor in early revolutionary Cuba. Perhaps surprisingly, the celebration of patriarchy, monogamy, and heterosexuality that bracketed my youth was also an important element of Cuban revolutionary discourse of the 1960s—albeit within a very different context. I received my PhD in Latin American and Caribbean History from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and was an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Dartmouth College. I am now an independent scholar.

Rachel's book list on defying the narrative of early revolutionary Cuba

Rachel Hynson Why did Rachel love this book?

Chase illuminates for readers the central role played by women in the Revolution, from the urban insurrection and political activism of the 1950s to mobilization for women’s rights in the early 1960s. This book rejects assertations made by leaders, such as Fidel Castro, that men initiated women into activism and that the Revolution rescued women from oppression. The book instead emphasizes how women organized to make public demands and even sometimes convinced reticent leadership to accede to their proposals. Most exciting to me is the final chapter on dueling efforts to fortify the family, as Chase demonstrates how revolutionary supporters and opponents each rested “their political authority in claims that they best protected the family” (p. 14).

By Michelle Chase,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Revolution within the Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A handful of celebrated photographs show armed, fatigues-clad female Cuban insurgents alongside their companeros in Cuba's remote mountains during the revolutionary struggle. However, the story of women's part in the struggle's success only now receives comprehensive consideration in Michelle Chase's history of women and gender politics in revolutionary Cuba. Restoring to history women's participation in the all-important urban insurrection, and resisting Fidel Castro's triumphant claim that women's emancipation was handed to them as a ""revolution within the revolution,"" Chase's work demonstrates that women's activism and leadership was critical at every stage of the revolutionary process.

Tracing changes in political attitudes…


Book cover of José Martí: A Revolutionary Life

Ilan Ehrlich Author Of Eduardo Chibás: The Incorrigible Man of Cuban Politics

From my list on biographies peeking into the lives of Cuban people.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was weaned on Cuban stories by my Havana-born mother and first visited the island in 1998. Since then, I earned a PhD in history from the Graduate Center, City University of New York–where I studied twentieth-century Cuban politics. While conducting research in Havana and Miami, I confirmed that legends were imbibed with the same fervor as café cubano. All histories are marked by tall tales, but Cubans are governed by theirs, inside and out, more than most. 

Ilan's book list on biographies peeking into the lives of Cuban people

Ilan Ehrlich Why did Ilan love this book?

José Martí is Cuba’s secular saint who represents all things to all Cubans. He was the idol of Cuba’s first generation to come of age in independent Cuba, during the 1920s, who were taught he was a Christ-like figure who sacrificed himself for Cuban independence. Fulgencio Batista adored him, Fidel Castro revered him, and anti-communist Cuban exiles worshiped him. Even so, Martí was largely unknown on the island during his lifetime and at the time of his death in 1895. This biography of Martí depicts him as a human as well as a hero. 

By Alfred J. López,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked José Martí as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jose Marti (1853-1895) was the founding hero of Cuban independence. In all of modern Latin American history, arguably only the "Great Liberator" Simon Bolivar rivals Marti in stature and legacy. Beyond his accomplishments as a revolutionary and political thinker, Marti was a giant of Latin American letters, whose poetry, essays, and journalism still rank among the most important works of the region. Today he is revered by both the Castro regime and the Cuban exile community, whose shared veneration of the "apostle" of freedom has led to his virtual apotheosis as a national saint.

In Jose Marti: A Revolutionary Life,…


Book cover of The Bolivian Diary

Arshin Adib-Moghaddam Author Of What is Iran?

From my list on power and resistance.

Why am I passionate about this?

Arshin Adib-Moghaddam is a world-renowned scholar and author. A double graduate of Cambridge University, he received his Professorship in Global Thought at SOAS as one of the youngest academics in his field. Since then he has been elected to several honorary positions all over the world, some of them with the royal seal and including at Harvard University and Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences in Kunming, China.

Arshin's book list on power and resistance

Arshin Adib-Moghaddam Why did Arshin love this book?

I have given this the top spot, not because of the political ideals of the author, but the intimate portrayal of his passion for justice that this classic book portrays with such vivid humanity. Che Guevara was a gifted writer and in this book all the revolutionary idealism that fed into his life-long battle merge into a powerful narrative that is so symptomatic for the romanticism of a bygone era. The Cuban revolution firmly rooted the idea of independence in the political lexicon of resistance movements all over the world, as independence from outside interference, is a necessary step towards a progressive democracy. I read Guevara's books as a Junior Research Fellow at Oxford University in order to train my mind in the various methods of critique.

By Ernesto Che Guevara,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Bolivian Diary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Guevara was a figure of epic proportions. These diaries, stark and moving, will be his most enduring monument' Observer

The final diaries of Che Guevara begin in 1966, when he travelled to Bolivia to foment a revolution, and end just two days before his death in October 1967. They form an unvarnished account of his guerrilla campaign against CIA-backed Bolivian troops, fighting in the jungle and keeping his men's spirits up - even as the struggle started to fail. Found in Guevara's backpack and smuggled to Cuba after his execution, The Bolivian Diary is an inspiring record of, and a…


Book cover of Marita: The Spy Who Loved Castro

Jan Stocklassa Author Of The Man Who Played with Fire: Stieg Larsson's Lost Files and the Hunt for an Assassin

From my list on real conspiracies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was researching the assassination of Sweden’s Prime Minister Olof Palme when I came across the private archive of author Stieg Larsson. After eight years of research, my book The Man Who Played with Fire – Stieg Larsson’s Lost Files and the Hunt for an Assassin was published, which shines new light on the conspiracy behind the unsolved murder. The book has been translated into 27 languages. My first book Gripen by Prague exposes corruption by Saab and BAe in connection with the sale of supersonic jet fighters to the Czech Republic. In the aftermath of the book, police investigations were opened in seven countries including the US and the UK.

Jan's book list on real conspiracies

Jan Stocklassa Why did Jan love this book?

This is an incredible story about the young Marita Lorenz who falls in love with Fidel Castro one month after the Cuban Revolution and then gets persuaded by the CIA to try and assassinate him. Marita Lorenz was a spy for the CIA, had a child with at least one Latin American dictator and several lovers among the New York Mafia. That much we know, but it’s up to you if you believe her take on the JFK assassination. As she puts it herself at the beginning of the book: “I have been a woman in a man’s world. I have lied to protect myself and my children and I have told the truth when it suited me. Now I want to leave things clear”.

By Marita Lorenz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Marita as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Few can say they've seen some of the most significant moments of the twentieth century unravel before their eyes. Marita Lorenz is one of them.

Born in Germany at the outbreak of WWII, Marita was incarcerated in a Nazi concentration camp as a child. In 1959, she travelled to Cuba where she met and fell in love with Fidel Castro. Yet upon fleeing to America, she was recruited by the CIA to assassinate the Fidel. Torn by love and loyalty, she failed to slip him the lethal pills.

Her life would take many more twists and turns - including having…


Book cover of Pleasure Island: Tourism and Temptation in Cuba

Van Gosse Author Of Where the Boys Are: Cuba, Cold War and the Making of a New Left

From my list on Cuba and the United States.

Why am I passionate about this?

Van Gosse, Professor of History at Franklin & Marshall College, is the author of Where the Boys Are: Cuba, Cold War America, and the Making of a New Left, published in 1993 and still in print, a classic account of how "Yankees" engaged with the Cuban Revolution in its early years. Since then he has published widely on solidarity with Latin America and the New Left; for the past ten years he has also taught a popular course, "Cuba and the United States: The Closest of Strangers."

Van's book list on Cuba and the United States

Van Gosse Why did Van love this book?

The Machado Era (1924-1933) and the build-up of U.S. tourism are key to Cuba’s later history, but I have always found that period hard to teach. Schwartz does an admirable job of documenting the close connections between business circles in both countries, and the process by which Cuba became a playground for wealthy Americans in the ‘Teens and Twenties, fueling both deep corruption and a powerful anti-imperialism.

By Rosalie Schwartz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pleasure Island as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Pleasure Island explores the tourism industry in Cuba between 1920 and 1960, as international travel ceased to be primarily a privilege of the wealthy, incorporating the world's growing middle class. Rosalie Schwartz examines tourists' changing ideas of leisure and recreation, as well as the response of a colonial-era Spanish city turned fleshpot and endless cabaret. The tourism industry mushroomed in and around Havana after 1920, as hundreds of thousands of North Americans transformed the city in collaboration with a local business and political elite. The Depression, exacerbated by a bloody revolution in 1933, plunged the tourism industry into a downward…


Book cover of Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana

Van Gosse Author Of Where the Boys Are: Cuba, Cold War and the Making of a New Left

From my list on Cuba and the United States.

Why am I passionate about this?

Van Gosse, Professor of History at Franklin & Marshall College, is the author of Where the Boys Are: Cuba, Cold War America, and the Making of a New Left, published in 1993 and still in print, a classic account of how "Yankees" engaged with the Cuban Revolution in its early years. Since then he has published widely on solidarity with Latin America and the New Left; for the past ten years he has also taught a popular course, "Cuba and the United States: The Closest of Strangers."

Van's book list on Cuba and the United States

Van Gosse Why did Van love this book?

Utterly engrossing, this behind-the-scenes narrative over many decades demonstrates that the Cuban diplomats were almost always willing to move towards normalizing relations, but were repeatedly stymied by non-negotiable demands from the U.S. side. Besides that, it’s full of piquant details, involving the many non-official actors and secret meetings in New York, on the island, or in other countries. Diplomatic history rarely gets this exciting!

By William M. LeoGrande, Peter Kornbluh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Back Channel to Cuba as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Challenging the conventional wisdom of perpetual hostility between the United States and Cuba--beyond invasions, covert operations, assassination plots using poison pens and exploding seashells, and a grinding economic embargo--this fascinating book chronicles a surprising, untold history of bilateral efforts toward rapprochement and reconciliation. Since 1959, conflict and aggression have dominated the story of U.S.-Cuban relations. Now, William M. LeoGrande and Peter Kornbluh present a new and increasingly more relevant account. From John F. Kennedy's offering of an olive branch to Fidel Castro after the missile crisis, to Henry Kissinger's top secret quest for normalization, to Barack Obama's promise of a…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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