Socialism and Democracy, 28:1, 178-182
Nancy Stout, One Day in December: Celia Sánchez and the Cuban Revolution (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2012)
Long overdue in the catalog of books on the Cuban Revolution, Nancy Stout’s One Day in December has made an important contribution to the study of the guerrilla insurrection and Fidel’s Cuba by presenting Celia Sánchez Manduley as one of the Revolution’s key players. Stout sheds light on and pays well deserved homage to this valiant and fiercely strong-minded Cuban female revolutionary, who remains hardly known outside of Cuba.
Celia was an undeniable asset in the success of the Revolution. She was a devoted colleague and friend of Fidel Castro, and had an immense impact on both the physical landscape and the people of Cuba. Nevertheless, there has been surprisingly little in-depth work on her key role in the Revolution. The author’s 10 years of research, including access to restricted and classified archives as well as dozens of interviews with friends, family, and colleagues of Celia, has resulted – finally – in a biography worthy of the woman.
One Day in December begins during Celia Sánchez’s youth and ends with her death, narrating the nearly 60 years of her vibrant and dynamic life. Celia was born in May 1920 in Manzanillo, in the eastern part of Cuba. She was the fourth of eight children in the upper-middle class home of rural doctor Manuel Sánchez, and his wife, Acacia Manduley. From quite a young age, Celia was politically active, and in the early 1950s she became involved with the 26th of July Movement, the anti-Batista movement led by Fidel Castro. As the title suggests, Celia’s life was transformed quite dramatically in December 1954, when she was asked to organize the arrival of Fidel and his revolutionaries who were to sail from Mexico to eastern Cuba. The landing occurred in December 1956 and over the next two years, Celia worked clandestinely from Manzanillo, handling supplies for the guerrillas in the Sierra Maestra, coordinating communications, and recruiting new members, among many other responsibilities…