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Young Castro: The Making of a Revolutionary with Jonathan Hansen

Thursday November 7, 2019
7:30 PM until 8:45 PM

This book will change how you think about Fidel Castro. 

Until now, biographers have treated Castro’s life like prosecutors, scouring his past for evidence to convict a person they don’t like or don’t understand. This can make for bad history and unsatisfying biography. Young Castro challenges readers to put aside the caricature of a bearded, cigar-munching, anti-American hot head to discover how Castro became the dictator who acted as a thorn in the side of US presidents for nearly half a century.

The first American historian in a generation to gain access to the Castro archives in Havana, Jonathan Hansen was able to secure cooperation from Castro’s family and closest confidants, gaining access to hundreds of never-before-seen letters and to interviews with people he was the first to ask for their impressions of the man. The result is a nuanced and penetrating portrait of a figure who was determined to be a leader—a man at once brilliant, arrogant, bold, vulnerable and all too human. A man who, having grown up on an island that felt like a colonial cage, was compelled to lead his country to independence.



Jonathan Hansen is a Senior Lecturer on Social Studies and a Faculty Associate at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Harvard University. 

He is the author of The Lost Promise of Patriotism: Debating American Identity, 1890-1920, as well as articles, op-eds, and book reviews on U.S. imperialism, nationalism, cosmopolitanism, and race and ethnicity published in the New York Times, Huffington Post,  and The Guardian, among others.

Professor Hansen teaches undergraduate courses on Introduction to Social Thought, Justice and Reconciliation after Mass Violence, PTSD in American history, as well as seminars on reconciliation and intractable conflicts at Harvard Law School. He is currently working on a biography of Rwandan president Paul Kagame.

Location: Raytheon Room
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