Review: Fidel and religionAvis de journaliste - Kirkus Reviews
According to Harvard theologian Harvey Cox in his excellent introduction, this book ""has already caused a near sensation"" throughout Europe, Latin America, and the Soviet bloc. The reason is this: for the first time ever, here a Communist leader affirms the compatability of religion and Marxist revolution. Castro's revisionist comments come during three lengthy 1985 conversations with Brazilian Dominican Frei Betto, a chief spokesman for ""liberation theology"" and an unabashed admirer of the Cuban leader. A too-long and breathless account by Betto of events leading up to the talks preface the conversations proper, which are presented in straight dialogue form. Although religion serves as the touchstone throughout the interchanges, Castro manages to soapbox his way into a multitude of subjects, from his early days fighting Batista's army to an explanation of Cuba's base economies, to the virtues of Che Guevara, to predictable attacks on US foreign policy. By dint of an extraordinary charisma that manages to seep even onto the printed page, most of what Castro says intrigues or even dazzles; less true of Betto, whose fawning towards the Cuban continually grates. Castro's specific comments on religion consist mostly of memories of a middle-class boyhood spent with a pious mother and Jesuit teachers; of grateful nods towards those Christians who worked for the revolutions in Cuba and Nicaragua; and of disclaimers that he holds any malice towards religion--including the attention-grabbing claim that there's no fundamental conflict between religion and Marxism, which, Castro asserts, share an identical goal: world brotherhood. An intriguing and useful book, but more for the insights it allows into Castro's supple mind than for its advertised content of a new affair between Marxism and religion, a marriage perhaps more easily proposed than consummated.