Reviewed in the Washington Post Book Review
FIDEL’S CUBA — A Revolution in Pictures, By Osvaldo Salas and Roberto Salas, photographers; Gregory Tozian, writer (Thunder’s Mouth, $34.95) Among world leaders, perhaps only John F. Kennedy was as well-served by photography as Fidel Castro has been. Though Kennedy’s Camelot and Castro’s revolution were different in most regards, each embodied an essentially romantic image of youth, energy, idealism. And both found brilliant photographers to fix that image for future generations. In Castro’s case there was Alexander Korda, who took the most famous of all pictures of Che Guevara, as well as Osvaldo Salas and his son Roberto. Beginning with Castro’s visit to New York in 1955, the Cuban emigre Osvaldo and the American-born Roberto became part of his entourage — from the guerrilla days in the Sierra Maestra to the triumphant entry into Havana to the U.S. debacle at the Bay of Pigs. Roberto Salas provides captions for these gritty black and white images of a myth in the making. — NK
(Author’s Note: of course, I wrote all the text in this book except the foreword. So, it was I who also wrote the more than 100 captions for the book, giving Roberto a consistent literary voice based on my many interviews with him in Havana. NK from the Washington Post couldn’t have known that; he, rightly, probably couldn’t give a tinker’s dam that I did.) Buy Fidel’s Cuba on amazon.com
At our “opening” of the photos in Los Angeles, at the prestigious Fahey/Klein Gallery, they showed a large collection of prints by Osvaldo and Roberto Salas. We had books on hand to sign, too, of course. That’s the gallery co-owner, David Fahey in the photo. David had the most astounding private collection of photos I’ve ever seen. (The gallery itself claims to have something like 8,000 photos in its for-sale stock.) The gallery has shown Cartier-Bresson, Man Ray, Edward Weston, Berenice Abbott, and many others over the years. Seeing David’s personal collection was like looking through a photo book of the greatest photos of the 19th and 20th century. His large, accounting “notebooks” he keeps with his own photos of famous photographers he knows/meets with, and their letters and inventive postcards, is also a treat to thumb through. Plus he’s a cool guy. We had about 900 people at the show over a four-hour period. Well, there are a LOT of people in L.A. Then, a dinner at a Cuban restaurant (of course), and booze back at Tommy G’s with Thea and Thane (who was in town for the show). What’s not to like?