Exclusive excerpt: 'One Day in December: Celia Sánchez and the Cuban Revolution'

The following is an excerpt from Nancy Stout's new book, One Day in December:  Celia Sánchez and the Cuban Revolution, published by Monthly Review Press. It is posted with the kind permission of Monthly Review Press. Readers of Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal are urged to order a copy HERE.

You can download the excerpt HERE (PDF), or read it on screen below. Alice Walker’s foreword is available at http://monthlyreview.org/2013/02/01/celia-sanchez-and-the-cuban-revolution

March 22, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Celia Sánchez is the missing actor of the Cuban Revolution. Although not as well known in the English-speaking world as Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, Sánchez played a pivotal role in launching the revolution and administering the revolutionary state. She joined the clandestine 26th of July Movement and went on to choose the landing site of the Granma and fight with the rebels in the Sierra Maestra. She collected the documents that would form the official archives of the revolution, and, after its victory, launched numerous projects that enriched the lives of many Cubans, from parks to literacy programs to helping develop the Cohiba cigar brand. All the while, she maintained a close relationship with Fidel Castro that lasted until her death in 1980.

The product of 10 years of original research, this biography draws on interviews with Sánchez’s friends, family and comrades in the rebel army, along with countless letters and documents. Biographer Nancy Stout was initially barred from the official archives, but, in a remarkable twist, was granted access by Fidel Castro himself, impressed as he was with Stout’s project and aware that Sánchez deserved a worthy biography.

This is the extraordinary story of an extraordinary woman who exemplified the very best values of the Cuban Revolution: selfless dedication to the people, courage in the face of grave danger, and the desire to transform society.

I love this book. Biographer Nancy Stout is to be congratulated for her insightful, mature and sometimes droll exploration of a profoundly liberated, adventuresome and driven personality. I love the life of Celia Sánchez, a life that was singular, sui generis, and true to its time of revolution and change in Cuban society, but also archetypal in its impact and relevance to all times of social struggle and revolt, including this one.Alice Walker, author, The Color Purple; winner, Pulitzer Prize & National Book Award
Nancy Stout’s One Day in December, in addition to being a penetrating and startling biography, is a new generation’s view into a world previous generations have been locked out of with words like: “dictator”, “communist”, “anti-American” and “communist sympathiser/traitor”. As we move into an era of multiculturalism, an era which continues to upset old racial paradigms, and an era of interconnectivity and globalism from which there is no turning back, Nancy Stout’s One Day in December takes on the importance of the work of Arundhati Roy or Noam Chomsky in its insistence on looking at facts rather than self serving capitalist and neocolonialist myth. And One Day in December is also a damn good read about a passionate, sensuous and brilliant woman!Sapphire, author of Push and The Kid
Engrossing, endearing, and eloquent, this sympathetic and superbly crafted portrait of the "True Flower of the Revolution" unfolds in magnificent detail. Nancy Stout leaves us breathless in admiration for this fearless revolutionary—a brilliant organiser, recruiter and Fidel Castro’s most precious aide. So intimate is Stout’s well-informed tour de force that the description of Sánchez’s death brings the reader to tears, inspired by a deep sense of love and loss.Christopher P. Baker, author, Mi Moto Fidel: Motorcycling Through Castro’s Cuba, the Moon Cuba Handbook and Cuba Classics: A Celebration of Vintage American Automobiles

Nancy Stout is a writer and photographer living in New York City, currently employed by Fordham University as a reference librarian. Her books include Great American Thoroughbred Racetracks, Homestretch, The West Side YMCA: A Social and Architectural Retrospective, Havana/La Habana (with architect Jorge Rigau, who wrote the text) and Habanos: the Story of the Havana Cigar (author and photographer). 

You can download the excerpt HERE (PDF), or read it on screen below.