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Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba & Then Lost It to the Revolution

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  1,998 ratings  ·  353 reviews
In Havana Nocturne, T. J. English offers a riveting, multifaceted true tale of organized crime, political corruption, roaring nightlife, revolution, and international conflict that interweaves the dual stories of the mob in Havana and the event that would overshadow it: the Cuban Revolution.

Bringing together long-buried historical information and English's own research in
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Published August 11th 2008 by Tantor Media (first published September 6th 2007)
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Alexander Santiago
I was always curious as to knowing more about the Mob ties to Cuba, as I knew just tidbits of info; 'Havana Nocturne' lays everything bare from the beginning to virtually that last shakened cocktail in the Mob-run casinos on that fateful New Year's Day of 1959. From Meyer Lansky, the Lower East Side kid who grew to be the brains behind the Mob muscle and brawn, and the brilliant architect of who was very close to making Havana the "Monte Carlo of the Caribbean"; President Fulgencio Batista, the ...more
T.J. English combines a historian's diligence with a crime reporter's appetite for bloody gossip and revealing, sleazy anecdotes. The story of how Lucky Luciano and a cabal of American gangsters worked to turn Havana into a Caribbean Las Vegas (with the help of dictator Fulgencio Batista) has been lying around for decades, waiting to be told properly, and English has done lots of valuable spadework and original reporting. He also fits the gangsters into the political currents of the time. For th ...more
A brief and engaging account of the Mafia's Cuba enterprises. Not the most useful knowledge to be found, unless you want to impress your husband during video night by pointing out all of the flaws in The Godfather, Part II. Probably not a good way to set the mood, come to think of it, but who needs the mood set?

Zombies come from Haiti, not Cuba. Thus, I cannot explain why they hired one to read this book aloud. I must say, though, that I really didn't mind his style by the time I reached the en
Justin Mitchell
I really enjoyed English's book The Savage City, and I've always been interested in the mob's role in Cuba in the 1950s, mostly because it plays such a pivotal role in The Godfather, Part II, one of my favorite films. English references that film several times, and compares its story to reality, which I found engaging. English has grown as a writer since he wrote Havana Nocturne. A lot of the metaphors he uses are a bit much, such as comparing the nation of Cuba to a "bitch in heat." He seemed t ...more
My interest in Cuba was kindled by a trip that I recently took there. I was struck by the many contradictions I witnessed, and I had a strong sense of a country on the verge of tremendous change. I was very curious to get a better understanding of what had led to the Revolution in the first place, rather than just looking at it as a failed social experiment.

The book details how American mobsters became the dominant economic and political power in Cuba during the 1950s. Much of this centered on
Alissa Thorne
Mobsters and hookers and spies, oh my!

A compelling and mind boggling tale of hedonistic paradise hand crafted by gangsters in the city of Havana, Cuba and later seized and crushed by Castro[1]. This historical account alternates from the lives of powerful leaders of organized crime in the era, to the big picture influences of their actions on culture and history. It's possible that a true history buff would find this somewhat lacking in detail, as the style had more of an emphasis on storytellin
I knew that Cuba was a "vacation spot" before Castro came to power (I recall my mom telling me her parents went there at least once) and that Batista was an "oppressive dictator" of some kind (to be fair, there are so many it's hard to keep them straight), but I didn't really know the whole story of the mob involvement in Cuba. This book fills in those details rather nicely. At the end, when Batista flees the country and the mobsters are frantically going from casino to casino to grab all their ...more
Una historia de la relación de la mafia de EEUU con Cuba, desde que Lucky Lucciano se entró de incógnito en la isla escapando de su exilio italiano hasta la irrupción de la revolución. Narrada con ritmo y trufada de anécdotas y referencias a El Padrino II, es un libro muy interesante que se lee sin pausa.
A pretty solid exploration into the convergence of American mobster greed, Cuban political corruption and greed, and revolutionary fervor that will upset the sugarcane cart, or more accurately the economic and sexual exploitation of our island neighbors to the south of Florida. Although I am not an expert on Mafiosi history, most of what I read rang true with what I have explored over the years, and makes me fairly confidant that English did good research. I was particularly captivated by the pa ...more
Erik Graff
Jul 12, 2013 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cuba, Castro, Mafia fans
Recommended to Erik by: Barbara Elkin
Shelves: history
A year ago my roommate's mother came on her annual visit with an interesting-looking book about the Mafia in Cuba. This year she returned with the book in hand, intending to leave it with us.

Havana Nocturne traces Cuban history in terms of the Mob from the twenties through the revolution in 1959 to the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963. The focus, however, is on 12/1946, the organized crime planning conference at Havana's Hotel Nacional, to early 1959, when the gangsters were thrown out
Harry Weber
def. not my cup of tea.

the story might be interesting and i'm sure it would've been an excellent read (in a different book) but it wasn't. and this solely owned to the appallingly boring schoolkid-renarration-style english chooses to use.

maybe it's just me, but if i want to read a plain, dry chronicle of the sequence of events i'll read a book on history.

and to Rosh (the guy who recommended this book strongly; advocated it: mate, if u want to have a thrilling cuba novel w partially the same e
Sinatra. Luciano. Castro. Siegel. Lansky. Che.

Cuba was a second home for the American Mafia. They ruled through their casinos and hotels in Havana, and their revels and greed brought the old corrupt government to a rapid decline. Every name is here, whether it's Frank Sinatra meeting with Lucky Luciano or Meyer Lansky running the island in the name of the almighty dollar. John F. Kennedy also appears, as a young Senator who found the delights of Cuban nightlife very much to his satisfaction.

Excellent history of the mafia's time in Cuba. Kennedy, Sinatra, George Raft, Fidel Castro, and many legendary mafia figures are involved in the story. However, the main focus of the history is Meyer Lansky who was the main force behind turning Havana into the mafia's playground. I have only two complaints about the book: 1) I got bogged down in the middle; 2) I'm still not sure how the Castro took over Cuba - which is probably intentional as this is a history of the mafia in Cuba many of whom d ...more
This book was awesome!!!!!! I loved it! I love history and to include so many facts and details of that time in Cuba, which has been exaggerated in countless movies and books was truly incredible. It is so well written that it transports you back to a time where you feel as though you are right there at the casinos, drinking a mojito and taking in a Cuban show at one of the many hotels. It's not only the story of the Havana Mob, but also Cuba and all the key players who had involvement in the sh ...more
This was fun. I have absolutely no 'mob' in me, no greed, no instinct to kill or topple, or even play the business game.
I still find mobsters interesting, I don't know why. Maybe because I long to fathom the mentality. Not to emulate, just to understand. Why the tales of these guys always make smile and chuckle I'll never know, but they do.
This book is about the rise of the mob in Havana, Cuba in the 40s and 50s, focusing mainly on the true capitalist Meyer Lansky and the Monte Carlo of the Car
I'd never read anything about Cuba and Castro although someone my age seems to know a lot about it by osmosis. My knowledge of gangsters in Havana was limited to viewing an old Sean Connery film called, "Cuba" which, unfortunately, has yet to appear in DVD form.

This is a fascinating story, involving from the mob side many of the gangsters who are featured on HBO's Boardwalk Empire, specifically—Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano. These guys, mostly Lansky had a vision for a legal gambling empire in
Pete daPixie
A fairly comprehensive history of twentieth century Cuba and the infiltration of organised crime into the island that ended with the revolution of Fidel Castro in 1959. Written chronologically in essays of around twenty page chapters, the author utilises many previous publications as well as first hand interviews to produce a coherent and well written documentary of 'The Havana Mob'.(2007)
The principal players of 'Lucky' Luciano, Meyer Lansky and Santo Trafficante with a full supporting cast of
Eric Mesa
I knew that one of the things Castro prided himself on was ridding Cuba of the influence of the American Mob, but I had no idea just how entwined they were with the Batista government. It was also incredible what long-range planners the mobsters were. If younger Americans know anything about these events, it's from the events of The Godfather, but that movie (or is it part 2?) places the mobster meeting the same week as the revolution. In reality it was decades earlier. In fact, Al Capone had dr ...more
I vividly remember devouring The Valachi Papers as a pre-teen and being introduced to Lucky Luciano, Joe Bonnano, Vito Genovese, etc. through its pages. Since that time, however, with the exception of when I was watching The Godfather or The Sopranos, I haven't given much thought to the Mob/Mafia/Cosa Nostra. That changed the minute I opened the cover of Havana Nocturne. All of a sudden, I was back with the same characters once again and spending time with Meyer Lanky as he sought to turn Cuba i ...more
T.J. English tells the story of the American Mafia's rise to power and eventual downfall in Cuba. From 1946 to 1959 Meyer Lansky, Lucky Luciano, Santo Trafficante and other mobsters from the mainland were running the show. Castro's revolution brought the good times to a halt on New Year's Day 1959. Plenty of fascinating facts and inside information keep the pages turning.

Havana Nocturne brings to mind the last paragraph of George Orwell's Animal Farm. The animals couldn't tell the men from the p
Paul Naoum
And they would've gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those meddling revolutionaries.

I picked up this book to prepare for a trip to Cuba, expecting a quick history lesson about Cuba in the 1950's. What I got instead was a fully fleshed out story straight out of a Scorsese movie, only better because it's actually true. English spares no detail in this rich story of the two competing forces that clashed and conflicted to create Cuba as we know it today, involving a cast of characters which
Ivonne Rovira
My Cuban father told me that, when Fidel Castro took on the Cuban government, people thought he might have a chance. When Fidel — the longtime Cuban leader was always just called “Fidel,” whether by admirers or the rabidly anticommunist — took on the Americans, everyone thought he’d have a real fight on his hands. (Just look at Guatemala and Jacobo Arbenz or Panama in 1925.)

But, when Fidel took on the Mob, my father said, no one thought he could triumph.

Los Americanos were one thing — but la Ma
William Matthies
I enjoy non fiction stories of gangsters and heard of this book on a 3 week trip riding a bike from one end of Cuba to the other, from one of the other riders. We ended in Havana staying near the Hotel Nacional de Cuba; the same hotel in Godfather II, which included the scene in 1946 when America's gangsters convened a summit there to plan their business in Cuba. How could I not read it?

As with so much else you'll enjoy it if as I do you like the subject matter. It is well written but it would h
Jan 05, 2014 Julie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Julie by: Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Now, having said that I will try to give a sense of how great I think this book was without giving too much away. I will start by saying that this was as well-written as it was well-researched ~ both top-notch. TJ English understands the weight and flow of choosing just the right words while also getting to the point. He did away with a lot of fictional folklore that has been in all of our heads for far too long. He also brought some gems to light that I had never thought of before. Altogeth
I found this book by accident. It was written in 2007...but it is current event as today's top news.. With the embargo being lifted on Cuba by Obama it is very au courant. This is he book that many need to read. The hidden history ....the diabolical pact the US govt signed with past Cuban govts ......the devil"s deal between the Mafia...the Cuban Govt...the US govt makes for reading that borders on a grade b pruient novel....The problem is that unfortunately it is all true..Where do I pick to gi ...more
Narrated by Mel Foster

13 hrs and 15 mins

Publisher's Summary

In Havana Nocturne, T. J. English offers a riveting, multifaceted true tale of organized crime, political corruption, roaring nightlife, revolution, and international conflict that interweaves the dual stories of the mob in Havana and the event that would overshadow it: the Cuban Revolution.

Bringing together long-buried historical information and English's own research in Havana - including interviews with the era's key survivors - Havan
Max Magbee
Interesting account of... well, the sub-title said it the best so I guess I will crib it; "How the Mob owned Cuba and then lost it to the Revolution".
Well researched by the author and an overall fun read with some juicy anecdotes about people such as Frank Sinatra and JFK thrown in for spice.
But that's the problem - only a little bit of spice. This is a story of the Mob in Havana, Cuba! Such a story should be rife with sex and violence and intrigue. Instead we only get hints of such hedonism. Th
Paul Pessolano
This book is classified as True Crime, but could just as easily been classified as history. This is the story of Cuba during the Batista regime. It explores the plight of the Cuban people, the attempted and almost successful take over by American Mobsters, and the rise of Fidel Castro.

This story is told exceptionally well and at times almost reads like good fiction or mystery.

Mob leaders, Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano, were able to further corrupt an already corrupt Cuban government. Huge payof
Nicholas Karpuk
When my friend Amanda loaned me this book, I flipped it over to read the description on the back, and it immediately filled my head with visions of gangster and Castro revolutionaries battling in the streets for control of Cuba. If there's a failing in "Havana Nocturne", it's more mine than the books, simply because it couldn't live up to my awesome, and frankly ridiculous, expectations. This probably has to do with me hating mobsters as a child, a perception heavily influenced by regular viewin ...more
Christine Boyer
Jul 25, 2011 Christine Boyer rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in government intrigue and the plight of small, island countries like Cuba.
Recommended to Christine by: On John's reading list.
Having grown up in south Florida, I had an early exposure to Cuban culture. Many of my friends had parents who left Cuba during the time of Castro's takeover. This book offered an interesting perspective of that decade right before Castro - the Batista regime and its connection to American mobsters in the 1950's. I thought the author offered a fair portrayal of the mobsters, politicians, etc., though I worried at first that he was making Fidel out as some "rebel hero", but at the end of the book ...more
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T. J. English is an author, journalist and screenwriter with an emphasis on organized crime, the criminal underworld, and the criminal justice system. Many of his books have been national bestsellers, including THE SAVAGE CITY, HAVANA NOCTURNE, PADDY WHACKED, and THE WESTIES. In 2013, a collection of his journalism was published under the title WHITEY'S PAYBACK, an anthology that includes articles ...more
More about T.J. English...
The Westies: Inside New York's Irish Mob The Savage City: Race, Murder, and a Generation on the Edge Paddy Whacked: The Untold Story of the Irish American Gangster Born to Kill: The Rise and Fall of America's Bloodiest Asian Gang Whitey's Payback and Other True Stories of Gangsterism, Murder, Corruption and Revenge

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