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The Domino Diaries: My Decade Boxing with Olympic Champions and Chasing Hemingway's Ghost in the Last Days of Castro's Cuba
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The Domino Diaries: My Decade Boxing with Olympic Champions and Chasing Hemingway's Ghost in the Last Days of Castro's Cuba

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  190 ratings  ·  25 reviews
A powerful and lively work of immersive journalism, Brin-Jonathan Butler's story of his time chasing the American dream through Cuba

Whether he's hustling his way into Mike Tyson's mansion for an interview, betting his life savings on a boxing match (against the favorite), becoming romantically entangled with one of Fidel Castro's granddaughters, or simply manufacturing pre
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 9th 2015 by Picador
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Average rating 3.94  · 
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 ·  190 ratings  ·  25 reviews

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Leonardo Donofrio
Jan 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The appeal of boxing lies in its simplicity. It is bare, stripped down, and always points to the truth. Butler’s writing on boxing often reflects this, and he is undoubtedly one of the best boxing writers working today; though anyone expecting this book to be a simple, straight forward, boxing memoir may be a little disappointed. This is a book about something deeper than sports, and nothing about it is simple or straightforward.
The start of the book is admittedly a little muddled. Butler’s fami
Jul 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I love this book for many reasons. Brin-Jonathan Butler writes a beautiful account of Cuba's final years in the US boycott. As US-Cuban relations improve by the day, the time capsule that has been Havana since 1959 will soon be a thing of the past. Butler brings the reader into this world unknown to most in the US. It's also an intelligent memoir with chapters that begin with quotes from various works of literature. He writes about Hemingway's Cuba, which--as Butler informs the reader--was surpr ...more
Bob T.
Jun 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I see today that The Paris Review has just excerpted a chapter from Domino Diaries, and I can see why. Brin-Jonathan Butler is an astonishing writing talent, and whether he's using his gift to expose naked vulnerabilities about himself or looking at the delusions America and Cuba have about each other from 30,000 feet up, the sensibility he brings to his prose makes me stop breathing sometimes. This book is a real gift, full of drama and power, and deep compassion. Bravo. ...more
Sam Slaughter
Jun 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful read that incorporates boxing, Hemingway, and Cuba. Great for the beach or the bar and addictive enough to finish in one or two sittings.
Aug 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Gonzo, heartfelt, elegiac, remarkable access and insight. Blown away.
Shelley Eriksen
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Loved this - not just for the subject (a boy who fears he’s a coward turns to boxing and books to prove otherwise) and the immersion in a Havana that most of us never get to know (and now never will) but also because Butler is often brilliant when it comes to digging in to his subjects: masculinity, Cuba, impossible choices, the ways in which we escape ourselves and imprison ourselves, and Hemingway.

This book is sending me off to read his others (all non-fiction, I believe). And I recommend lis
Philip Girvan
Aug 08, 2016 rated it liked it
I'm normally skeptical of memoirs written by those in their 30s, but Butler's is a worthwhile read.
More than anything, this book is a love letter to the Cuban people. Butler’s admiration for their resilience, their spirit, their generosity, and their women is quickly made clear. Ample quotes from Butler's Cuban friends, acquaintances, and lovers demonstrating conflicting opinions on the Castro regime, Cuba’s difficult relationship with America, and the successes and failures of the Revolution.
Jan 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: real-life-story
fabulous story with wonderful writing. Journalist put me in the middle of his fantastic experience.
Daniel Rowe
Dec 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Such an excellent book. Makes me want to go to Cuba and watch some boxing. Well-written and completely engaging.
Athens Moreno
Feb 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
A good coming of age following of a young man who is learning about himself as well as the love that people have for their country. From the streets of Cuba comes a quick, memoir that leaves you hoping for the best of all the characters.
Adam Swift
Sep 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
Not awful, but didn't finish it. Formula of too many quotes, both as epigrams at the beginning of the chapters and then referenced in the text, plus the mentioning of a factoid that about 15 pages later ends up in the mouth of someone that seems a little too cleanly quoted. ...more
Feb 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading "The Domino Diaries". It was an eye opening peak into the Cuban culture and the sacrifices made in both directions to some of their better known boxers. It is a heartfelt memoir by someone who truly loves the country. Thanks to Goodreads First Reads for the opportunity. ...more
Mar 26, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book on G oodreads as a first-read book.

To me this book was ok. It was hard to follow what was going on. One minute you are in the present then without warning the author jumps to the past.

I lost interest while reading this book.
Oct 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Marvelous, compassionate exploration of Cuba at such a critical moment in both Cuba and the US's history. Invaluable to any traveler visiting the island. ...more
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir
Butler seemed to be going for hyper-masculine in the style of Hunter S. Thompson and (obviously) Earnest Hemingway, but came across as juvenile. I couldn't take one more event being described as someone's "wet dream" and put it down a little after half way.
Also failed to contextualize. I know the history of the Cuban revolution to an extent, Fidel's rise to power. Butler failed to provide any context or background and it would have been helpful to understand his understanding or perspective of
Rob Saunders
May 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
An intriguing piece of writing part journalism, part memoir. Butler seeks to describe and define the multi-faceted allures and disillusionments of Cuba and its people. Cuba has for decades been a highly interesting human story and, more recently, political experiment. The focus of this book revolves around the travails of world-class, would-be professional Cuban athletes who have made the decision or not to defect. This is a good book - brilliantly written in spots, in need of a trim in others - ...more
Aug 10, 2017 rated it liked it
I wanted to love this more! Started off great. Being a memoir, I should have known it would highlight the author's own conquests. But still an interesting - at times, beautiful - read and perspective. ...more
May 11, 2021 rated it liked it
Interesting perspective on Cuba through the combined lenses of Ernest Hemingway, boxing and baseball. Fun following Butler through his travels and encounters with interesting characters. Made me want to visit Cuba and stirred a longing for the Muhammed Ali-Teofilo Stevenson.
Rick Homuth
Dec 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was amazing and made me miss Cuba like crazy, but I don't believe for a God damn minute this dude had sex with Fidel's granddaughter. ...more
Georgiana Platt
Mar 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting background to the boxing industry in Cuba. I liked how the author presented his impressions on Cuba when he first went, and how they changed as he kept returning. There is more about boxing than Hemingway, but still it was a captive read. If you're into boxing, this is a great book of history! ...more
Glen Sharp
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
DOMINO DIARIES is a perfect companion for Butler’s CUBAN BOXER’S JOURNEY. By focusing less on boxing and more on the effect Cuban culture has upon him, Butler eloquently describes how horribly difficult the decision to leave Cuba must be. Great reading, and a wonderful tribute to a land Butler clearly loves but has now lost.
May 09, 2016 added it
Rick Steves was the original reference for this title. As he once did for Iran, Rick Steves was on a scouting mission in Cuba to prepare the groundwork for more expensive future tourism by Americans. In February of this year, Rick Steves published an ongoing blog of his explorations of the changing social landscape in Cuba. Sports especially boxing and baseball are an important part of Cuban culture. Brin's book is a culmination of the his ten-year exploration trying to understand Cuba and Cuban ...more
Mar 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
I won this book through Goodreads while I was taking a Latin American history class, so I thought it would be relevant, but it wasn't, and I couldn't get into it. The author's style just isn't for me. ...more
Alex Flynn
Feb 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Fantastic reporting, great stories, not a fan of the voice or the memoirish aspects of the book. Definitely worth the read, but if you don't adore Hunter S. Thompson, Jack Kerouac, and/or Earnest Hemingway, you may get frustrated at points. ...more
Oct 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
A colorful picture of present-day Cuba through the eyes of a journalist/boxer that visited the country multiple times and talked with many of the boxing greats.
Rick Wolff
rated it it was ok
Jan 29, 2017
rated it liked it
Feb 08, 2018
John Ihor Campagna
rated it it was ok
Mar 22, 2017
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Jan 31, 2016
Sam Klomhaus
rated it really liked it
Dec 24, 2017
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