If there was a reward for good timing, Arsenal Pulp Press will get it for their graphic novel, Castro by Reinhard Kleist. Originally published in English by Selfmade Hero for the British market, it’s now being made available in North America for the first time. The graphic novel has been updated too, to include references to renewed relations between Cuba and the US.
Castro dives into the life of the controversial Cuban leader Fidel Castro (shocked I know based on the title). The graphic novel tracks Castro’s rise, through the revolution, and post revolution life.
The book is narrated by a German journalist named Karl Mertens, who is plunged into the searing heat of pre-revolutionary Cuba in the mid-1950s. He first meets with Castro while the latter is hiding in the mountains, then follows him through the dramatic revolution and his ascent to the presidency that, despite the Bay of Pigs confrontation and decades of international trade blockades, lasts for nearly 50 years. We also witness Castro’s involvement in bloody skirmishes, failed missions, and brutal crackdowns, as well as his interactions with and on behalf of the Cuban people, which reveal as much about his fallible human qualities as they do his legend.
Kleist, who visited Cuba in 2008, captures the excitement of the revolution, and the loss of the sheen in the post revolution, presenting Castro in both positive and negative light and painting a complex picture of one of the most enduring and controversial figures in modern history as well as the politics that swirled around him.
Kleist also doesn’t seem to take sides at all in right and wrong. The story is told through the experiences of the German journalist, and by doing that Kleist gives us the full arc, not romanticizing reality, but showing warts and all. We can see the idealism follow a natural path, and a path I personally have felt in my political career.
Castro is a solid read for those who want to learn more about the Cuban Revolution and Fidel Castro, and provides a good starting point. Hopefully, it’ll get folks interested to explore more, as reality is one hell of a story.
Story: Reinhard Kleist Art: Reinhard Kleist
Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Arsenal Pulp provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review