Until free-and-easy legal travel between the U.S. and Cuba becomes a reality, Havana Before Castro is your second best bet.
It's pages offer a vicarious vacation to the city that the tourism industry once promoted as "So near…And Yet So Foreign," right at your fingertips – all without having to board an overbooked plane or deal with surly TSA security agents.
Moruzzi's generously illustrated, large format paperback tells the story of "The Paris of the Western Hemisphere," from Havana's beginning as a Spanish settlement to its post-war glory days to Castro's revolution. Colorfully cluing us in to Cuba's politics, music, and architecture, as well as its mobsters, bars, burlesque, and brothels, each page brings yesterday's Havana back to life with a veritable jackpot of historic photos, vintage postcards and architectural renderings, movie posters, record jackets, post-war tourism advertising, and nightclub programs – even cocktail swizzle sticks. Most compelling are the contemporary street scene, nightclub, and hotel images shot by Sven Kirsten in 2007, juxtaposed with mid-century photographs of the same locations. Not much has changed, least of all the cars on the street.
With a few Cuban cocktail recipes thrown in for good measure (Cuba Libre, Sloppy Joe's, El Presidente), the book also offers some red-hot leads to the well preserved, vintage Havana that still stands and remains open for business, promising an exciting checklist for those plotting their first visit.