The Wilder Shores of Marx (1991)

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The Wilder Shores of Marx (1991)

Postby Mike » 06 May 2014, 11:19

I recently got hold of this classic TD book, an account of his journeys through the last remnants of the communist world. It's a fascinating read, full of the usual deft touches.

It would be easy for a writer to make such a book depressingly monotonous, since the landscapes, iconography and public monuments of the communist dictatorships were so similar. But TD manages to find enough points of difference in each of the places he visits to keep the book fresh.

Probably the best section is that concerning Cuba, which still manages to be a fetish for so many on the left because of their much-trumpeted successes in health and education. Although TD acknowledges this to some extent, and certainly does not gloss over the brutality of the Batista regime, he puts these "achievements" in their proper perspective while reviewing the ruinous effects of Castro's regime on most other aspects of the country. There is a paragraph which I think is worth quoting in full:

By the time I left Cuba I was tired of hearing about the crime, unemployment and drug addiction in the United States: never had I been so pro-American. My feeling was reinforced when I visited the Galeria Centro Provincial de Arte, to see an exhbition of portraits of [Jose] Marti by contemporary painters to celebrate his 137th birthday. The artists possessed more visual flair than in any other communist country I had visited, but this only made the intellectual content the more pitiful. One portrait was entitled Profecia en America, Prophecy in America, and it was a map with a picture of Marti growing out of the island of Cuba. South of the Rio Grande all was verdant, happy jungle, punctuated by pretty little whitewashed and tiled villages, full of dancing villagers; north of the Rio Grande, the land flared with the orange flames of Hell, over which flew an evil black bird of prey with the Stars and Stripes in its beak. I should have been less disturbed by this nonsense if the painter had been without talent: but talent in the service of centrally ordained lies is a terrible thing.


If you haven't read the book, I can thoroughly recommend it.
Mike
 
Posts: 402
Joined: 01 Aug 2011, 11:08
Location: Australia

Re: The Wilder Shores of Marx (1991)

Postby Nathan » 06 May 2014, 11:38

That sounds fascinating, Mike - never heard of this one before. I've never had much interest in Cuba, but I've always been interested in the communist era in Eastern Europe. I'm sure there is all sorts of other TD travel writings out there that have passed me by as well.
Nathan
 
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Joined: 08 Dec 2012, 17:58

Re: The Wilder Shores of Marx (1991)

Postby Kevin R » 09 May 2014, 00:31

I've been after a copy, but 'Abe' and Amazon books are demanding ludicrous Weimar sums to secure one. From the former, one new copy is available for sale at over two hundred and fifty guineas! And yet, via the latter, a mere equivalent to the price of a soapy frappachocodoppachino in order to view it on Kinderbook.
Kevin R
 
Posts: 110
Joined: 27 Nov 2013, 20:48

Re: The Wilder Shores of Marx (1991)

Postby Mike » 09 May 2014, 09:41

Kevin R wrote:And yet, via the latter, a mere equivalent to the price of a soapy frappachocodoppachino in order to view it on Kinderbook.


That was my choice. I got a Kindle for my birthday earlier this year and I'm loving it. Great literature available with a single click, either for free or close to it. Already making my way through the TD back catalogue that way!
Mike
 
Posts: 402
Joined: 01 Aug 2011, 11:08
Location: Australia


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