by Nancy Stout (Monthly Review Press, £25)
Monday 29 July 2013 by Angel Dahouk
A new biography of Celia Sanchez vividly brings a revolutionary icon to life
Celia Sanchez is not a familiar name beyond Cuban borders but that should change with this, the first comprehensive biography of her life.
As a committed soldier of social justice, she was instrumental in driving the one of the greatest revolutions of the 20th century and US writer Nancy Stout retells the story of an inspirational female revolutionary.
Before she became an integral member of the 26th July Movement – paving the way for Fidel Castro’s presidency in Cuba from 1959 – Sanchez was already admired locally as the daughter of a respected doctor. During the 1940s and ’50s, her extensive charitable activities meant that she was not only well acquainted with everyone along the south-west coast of Cuba but that she was also well loved.
Her knowledge of land and people proved vital for the movement. Sanchez rallied the support of both the workers and the wealthy across Cuba to create a robust underground network. Without it, Fidel Castro and his rebels could not have overthrown Fulgencio Batista’s regime.
Stout, who dedicated 10 years to original research, takes a narrative approach to Sanchez’s role in the movement, drawing on primary sources including first-hand interviews with the people closest to her…