Bonsal combines his memoirs of his experiences in Havana with an analysis of the relationship between Cuba and the United States both during the Batista and Castro regimes and during the earlier history of the Cuban Republic.
His discussion of Castro's personality is incisive, portraying the Maximum Leader's increasing animosity toward the United States until the final break-off of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Bonsal's observations of Castro and the sociopolitical climate in Cuba are perhaps the most incisive and accurate of any to date on the subject.
All the events from the Revolution to the termination of diplomatic relations are discussed. Of particular interest are Bonsal's accounts of his attempt to find a basis for a rational relationship between the United States and Castro's Revolution, the rejection of that attempt by Castro, and the abandonment by Washington of the policy of nonintervention in Cuban affairs which the Ambassador had advocated.
Finally, in an evaluation of future relations between the two countries, Bonsal analyzes some of the major problems of the coming years.
This book is a good deal more than just a personal narrative of the ambassador's hard time. It is, in fact, a thoughtful and in view of all the circumstances, a laudably impartial general account of the United States-Cuban relations in the 1960s.
Replete with encounters with Fidel Castro, some revealing, some quite painful, Bonsal's recital of events in Cuba is persuasive because of its authenticity. Beyond illustrations of the personal charisma of the 'maximum leader,' and of the unhappy results of tit-for-tat policies adopted both in Havana and in Washington, are political and philosophical judgments. They are worthy of serious attention.
Retired Ambassador Philip W. Bonsal argues that Castro's early provocations triggered unjustifiably harsh U.S. reprisals, beginning with a crucial decision implemented by the Secretary of the Treasury. . . . This reprisal against Castro's dealing with the Soviet Union was the first overt act in an unannounced policy that climaxed with the Bay of Pigs invasion.
[Cuba, Castro, and the United States] is sure to draw fire from many for the convictions so bluntly expressed and for the personal observations offered, but as the last American ambassador in Havana Bonsal does have the credentials of a man who should be listened to.