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Against All Hope: A Memoir of Life in Castro's Gulag
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Against All Hope: A Memoir of Life in Castro's Gulag

4.43  ·  Rating Details ·  216 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
Against All Hope is Armando Valladares' account of over twenty years in Fidel Castro's tropical gulag. Arrested in 1960 for being philosophically and religiously opposed to communism, Valladares was not released until 1982, by which time he had become one of the world's most celebrated "prisoners of conscience." Interned all those years at the infamous Isla de Pinos prison ...more
Paperback, 423 pages
Published April 1st 2001 by Encounter Books (first published April 12th 1986)
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Community Reviews

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Silvia Abreu
Jun 18, 2009 Silvia Abreu rated it it was amazing
Castro is a disgusting excuse of a human being. There is a special place in hell reserved for people like him.
Sep 25, 2016 Negin rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir-biography
I loathe communism and I have no respect for those who do. I also have no respect for those who like and romanticize Castro. This was an extremely difficult read. The author refused to support Castro and because of that, he was a prisoner under dreadfully harsh and gruesome conditions. Reading about what those prisoners went through was heartbreaking to say the least. Their strong, unshakeable religious faith was incredible.

“I was utterly exhausted. The lack of sleep and the tension were seriou
Jan 09, 2010 Matt rated it really liked it
Great illustration of what it is REALLY like under Castro. Every communism-apologist liberal would do well to read this true story.
that cute little red-eyed kitten
I didn't finish this book, not because it doesn't deserve to be read - it does. I just had too strong a feeling of deja-vu. I've read too many stories like this one. I feel a bit bad about it, but I just want to "move on" with my reading. I wish I had heard about this book many years ago, maybe it would have helped me better to understand what I saw in Cuba when I was there. No excuse for it, really, but I absolutely didn't understand what dictatorship meant when I was there. Couldn't understand ...more
JoséMaría BlancoWhite
Feb 07, 2014 JoséMaría BlancoWhite rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs, favorites
Mandatory reading (along with Jorge Masetti's In the Pirate's Den, which allows to see the other side: the middle-class, comfortable punk turned communist, the appropriate acolyte for Castro's genocide).

This book is a victory of faith and resilience against totalitarianism. Castro deceived the poor, the peasants of Cuba. He perverted the revolution the people were expecting. Castro had declared a thousand times that he was not a communist and that the revolution was "greener than palm trees", bu
Michael Connolly
Feb 13, 2012 Michael Connolly rated it really liked it
The author was a political prisoner in Cuba for twenty years for refusing to support Fidel Castro. Castro treated his political prisoners harshly. I'll never forget his description of the prisoners being forced to wade through a ditch filled with excrement. In contrast, Castro enjoyed a comfortable stay when he was imprisoned by the previous dictator, Batista. In fact, Batista had even allowed Communists to serve in his government. After the revolution, hundreds of Batista's soldiers were execut ...more
Bill Thompson
Dec 04, 2015 Bill Thompson rated it it was amazing
I was speaking to my Cuban neighbor (who got out as a child in 1961 in Operation Peter Pan) about America's new reconciliation with Castro and the Cuban government. Obama appears to want to normalize things as much as possible. My friend gave me five books to read. This was the second and I hope none of the others will be as disturbing as this one was.
The treatment of political prisoners in Cuba is deplorable and inhumane. The author of this book was imprisoned for TWENTY-TWO YEARS for disagree
Dec 28, 2016 Matt rated it it was amazing
There's Elie Wiesel's "Night," Viktor Frankl "Man's Search for Meaning," the story of Louis Zamperini as told in "Unbroken", and others; there is also Armando Valladares' "Against all Hope." Valledares chronicles his 22 years in Castro's concentration camps. From his seemingly innocuous arrest (come down to the station we want to ask you some questions) to the torture and work camps of what was then called Isla de Pinos, though crippling malnutrition. Valledares with poignancy, describes the wha ...more
Mark Casey
Feb 05, 2017 Mark Casey rated it really liked it
There were times when it was difficult for me to continue reading this autobiography. The tortures Armando Valladares and his fellow prisoners had to bear in Castro's prisons were horrific to say the least. On the other hand, the work has its beautiful and uplifting moments. And, powering through a difficult to stomach story is just about the least one can do to recognize and pay respect to the extraordinary suffering borne by political enemies of the Castro regime.

A few things stand out about V
Liz Echavarria
Feb 21, 2015 Liz Echavarria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Valladares is truly remarkable as a person and in spirit. His story of human torture and abuse in the grips of Castro's dictatorship goes beyond anything I have ever read aside from the Nazi Concentration Camps & the African Slave Trade. The writing is raw, unapologetic, and truly captures the anguish experienced by the Cuban political prisoners and the ostracism of their families in Cuban society. Those of us not accustomed to the level of savagery and brutality described by Vallad
Jul 03, 2009 Joe rated it it was amazing
This is a very difficult book to read. My wife is the first American-born, in an extended Cuban family that have all escaped Castro's "Dirty Little Secret", over the span of decades.The book was lent to me by an aunt, who herself was able to get "out" in 1968.
The stories I have learned around a family dinner table, only serve to make the life and story of Armando Vallardes that much more personal. His writing is incredibly powerful, but never loses his idea of the humanity in us all, even in
Fernando Bravo
Jun 25, 2015 Fernando Bravo rated it it was amazing
Wow! The humanity! Truth is stranger (and crueler) than fiction indeed. As I began reading this memoir I found myself saddened by the horrors that this man went through. However, as I read on and on, I found myself inspired. I was inspired by the iron will of the author, Valladares, to not only persevere, but beyond that, resist, overcome, and soar, all despite the hunger, torture, and horrific acts of cruelty (not to mention death all around). This memoir is far richer and more substantive than ...more
Eric Sondermann
Jul 30, 2013 Eric Sondermann rated it really liked it
I read this book while in Cuba over the last week. It is an excellent, important and so telling read. My only critique is that it could have used an editor and been one-third shorter. But it's a legacy we must not forget especially amidst the ample share of happy talk and denial to which we were exposed. My compliments to Mr. Valladares for his courage, his abiding principles, his perseverance, his outspoken leadership on human rights in Cuba and beyond, and for writing his story for posterity.
Oliver Eike
This is a book that a few more heads of government should have read before praising Castro and the paradise he had made Cuba into.

It was saddening to see just how many praised him after his death. But then again people still praise Stalin, Honecker, Mao and Sung.

This is a harsh book to read as it contains torture and death. But it should be read by as many as possible, for it is clear that not enough people read history.
I read this book years ago. I don't remember exactly when. The president's visit to Cuba reminded me of the oppression of the Castro Regime. Armando Valladares's imprisonment for refusing to put a pro Castro sign on his desk is a real eye opener, exposing Castro for what he is, a brutal dictator who cares about power, and not the welfare of his people.
Carrie Guinn
Mar 03, 2015 Carrie Guinn rated it really liked it
The Arthur does an excellent job in describing the conditions he had to survive through in Castro's jails. I would refer to the as concentration camps. I've heard the same stories from relatives of mine who were also prisoners in those jails. The sad part to the story is that today, these things continue to happen. I have many relatives there and they are afraid to communicate openly with me.
Melissa Martin
May 09, 2014 Melissa Martin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book and well written. Valladares and his fellow inmates/friends suffered so many inhumane, despicable atrocities that I'd never wish on my worst enemy. Definitely a page turner and one that makes you feel his suffering. I wish his books of poems were in English, I'd definitely read those too. And I'd love to see the pictures of him in his wheelchair that he had smuggled to Martha!
Feb 17, 2010 Cora rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is one powerful book. It is so well written, and portrays a devastating situation. The author handled his unjust imprisonment with a grace that few of us possess, and details it in his memoir in a way that gripped me tightly.
Feb 04, 2017 Rodolfo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historia, joven
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 29, 2010 Dory added it
A wonderful memoir full of all the truth that goes on in Cuban Prisons.
Mr. Valladares did a magnificant work with his words and hope. Is a must read book.
Laurel Hicks
Dec 01, 2016 Laurel Hicks rated it it was amazing
Dante could have done research here. In no way do I mourn the passing of Fidel Castro.
Tracy Hackney
Feb 10, 2011 Tracy Hackney rated it really liked it
Great book, but very difficult to read. It's hard to believe anyone can live through such horror as this man who spent 22 years in a Cuban prison.
Liang Gang Yu
Aug 19, 2016 Liang Gang Yu rated it it was amazing
Shelves: great-books
A shocking description of gruesome prison life; a thought-provoking story about hope and humanity.
Nov 18, 2008 Esther rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone over the age of 13
Recommended to Esther by: On my parents shelf
This book is the firsthand telling of what it was like in the 60's and 70's being a political prisoner under Castro's rule. It is a very encouraging story of how God works.
Maria Martinez
Mar 04, 2014 Maria Martinez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this many years ago and could hardly put it down. The writer suffered so many atrocities in the Cuban prison. We should never forget his story.
Nov 12, 2008 Jayne rated it liked it
Slow read, but interesting.
Jan 21, 2009 Justin rated it it was amazing
This book is incomparable. I have never read any book like it. Armando's courage is daunting and his victory is timeless.
Dec 10, 2008 Jonah rated it it was amazing
Hard to romanticize Fidel and his mass executions of innocent people....
Joseph Luizzi
Jul 22, 2016 Joseph Luizzi rated it really liked it
Not an easy read. It was similar to Solzhenitsyn's "Gulag Archipelago". But that should come as no surprise.
Marco den Ouden
Nov 17, 2015 Marco den Ouden rated it really liked it
An excellent account of life in Castro' prisons.
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“The food that afternoon was served in tins that had contained Russian beef. It was three spoonfuls of boiled macaroni and a piece of bread. That was February 11, 1970. That day saw the beginning of a plan for biological and psychological experimentation more inhuman, brutal, and merciless than anything the western world had known with the exception of the Nazis’ activities.” 4 likes
“The men behind those iron palisades looked like skeletons; their faces were white and waxen from lack of sun. One of them was so emaciated that he seemed unreal. He didn’t speak, he didn’t wave or gesture, he was simply there, staring — he looked to me like a figure in a wax museum. However, not one of the men there could have spent more than two years and a few days in that jail. Just thinking about it sent a shiver of terror up my spine. Two years!” 3 likes
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