Lee Lockwood’s book is subtitled “An American journalist’s inside look at today’s Cuba—in text and pictures.” That is as succinct a twelve-word description as can be given of the book under review. The author has visited Cuba a number of times since the advent of Castro, beginning on New Year’s Eve 1958, when Batista fled. The bulk of the book, however, derives from a fourteen-week stay during the summer of 1965, during which Lockwood conducted a seven-day tape-recorded interview with Castro at the prime minister’s retreat on the Isle of Pines. This interview, translated and rearranged, comprises the middle half of the book. In it, under the prod of excellent questions from Lockwood, the prime minister—who is at times extremely candid, at times very careful, but always highly articulate and impressively intelligent—ranges over topics as diverse and as controversial as the revolution itself.

Before introducing the interview materials, Lockwood presents Castro and the Castroite style in two chapters. One of these describes a trip with the prime minister to Uvero in the Sierra, and the other describes the chain of events and frustrations leading up to the interview on the Isle of Pines. After the interview comes a chapter on political prisoners (Lockwood was allowed to visit the camps and take photographs), a chapter on the exodus of Cuban refugees from the port of Camarioca in the autumn of 1965, a portfolio of uncaptioned photographs of the Cuban scene, and finally a brief evaluation of the revolution and Castro’s role in it. Almost half of the volume is de voted to Lockwood’s excellent photographs of Castro and the revolution (he is a photographer by profession), and these photographs, taken in conjunction with the interview, the descriptive passages, and the interpretive passages, leave the reader with a vivid sense of the ambiente of revolutionary Cuba. With the exception of actually visiting the island, reading this book is the single most useful way of “getting into” Castro’s Cuba. As a bonus, it is handsomely produced and bound and probably not overpriced, considering today’s market.

In fairness to both author and reader, it should be emphasized that Lockwood has a very definite point of view concerning the revolution. Actually his point of view is separable into two sub-themes, one interpretive and one evaluative. The interpretive theme is that one cannot possibly understand or appreciate the Cuban revolution without understanding and appreciating Fidel Castro. Almost no one who knows the revolution even in passing would wish to dispute that point. The evaluative theme is that the revolution as a historic transformation of social, economic, and political institutions has been more humane, more productive of the “common good,” and more ably led than most Americans—both in high and in low places—have been able to realize or willing to admit.

Thus Lockwood is clearly a friend of the revolution, although not an uncritical one. His feeling of fascination for Castro and for the revolution can be read on almost every page and seen in almost every picture. It is not a “balanced view,” but it is probably closer to the truth than we have been getting through the exile community and the mass media. Given the paucity of scholarly work on contemporary Cuba and the difficulty of visiting the island, the photographs, interview materials, and interpretations of this gifted journalist must go high on the reading list of anyone, professional or layman, who maintains a serious interest in Cuban affairs and in that most dramatic and important of twentieth-century Latin American leaders, Fidel Castro.