One Day in December: Celia Sánchez and the Cuban Revolution
By Nancy Stout
Monthly Review Press, 2013
Review by Seth Sandronsky
In the opening pages of a new biography, Alice Walker’s Foreword sets the stage for the poignant portrayal of a person with scant name recognition in North America. Until, that is, the publication of One Day in December. Author Nancy Stout divides the book into four parts: Pilón, Manzanillo, Sierra Maestra, and Havana, Cuba, the main places where Sánchez and scores of other Cubans resisted, eventually toppling the Cuban government and replacing it with a revolutionary regime.
As Fidel Castro and his comrades returned to Cuba from training in Mexico, Sánchez, a doctor’s daughter, used her social status to advance strategy as part of the July 26 movement.
A map on page 20 helps readers orient themselves to key locales. Readers see where Sánchez organized fishing trips and other social events to mobilize opponents of the dictator Batista. Stout credits Sanchez’s successes to two vital qualities—toughness and secretiveness. In this way, she united farmers, doctors, and businesspeople, a remarkable class composition of opposition laboring to overthrow Cuba’s government.
After Castro and the other combatants arrived in Cuba to take up arms against the government, they suffered heavy losses, but survived, in part, due to Sánchez’s efforts to build a support network. She became a “clandestine, living underground using aliases and safe houses.”
Stout draws on extensive oral interviews and archival documents. Sánchez’s letters to Fidel Castro—and his to her—reveal much, such as how she dealt with death of fellow rebels and strategic and tactical maneuvers…
Read the entire review in Z Magazine