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Download The Sugar King of Havana: The Rise and Fall of Julio Lobo, Cuba's Last Tycoon Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Sugar King of Havana: The Rise and Fall of Julio Lobo, Cubas Last Tycoon, by John Paul Rathbone Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: John Paul Rathbone Narrator: Simon Vance Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Fifty years after the Cuban revolution, the legendary wealth of the sugar magnate Julio Lobo remains emblematic of a certain way of life that came to an abrupt end when Fidel Castro marched into Havana. Known in his day as the King of Sugar, Lobo was for decades the most powerful force in the world sugar market, controlling vast swaths of the island’s sugar interests. Born in 1898, the year of Cuba’s independence, Lobo’s extraordinary life mirrors, in almost lurid technicolor, the many rises and final fall of the troubled Cuban republic.

The details of Lobo’s life are fit for Hollywood. He twice cornered the international sugar market and had the largest collection of Napoleonica outside of France, including the emperor’s back teeth and death mask. He once faced a firing squad only to be pardoned at the last moment, and he later survived a gangland shooting. He courted movie stars from Bette Davis to Joan Fontaine and filled the swimming pool at his sprawling estate with perfume when Esther Williams came to visit.

As Rathbone observes, such are the legends of which revolutions are made and later justified. But Lobo was also a progressive and a philanthropist, and his genius was so widely acknowledged that Che Guevara personally offered him the position of minister of sugar in the Communist regime. When Lobo declined—knowing that their worldviews could never be compatible—his properties were nationalized, most of his fortune vanished overnight, and he left the island, never to return to his beloved Cuba.

Financial Times journalist John Paul Rathbone has been fascinated by this intoxicating, whirligig, and contradictory pre-revolutionary period his entire life. His mother was also a member of Havana’s storied haute bourgeoisie and a friend of Lobo’s daughters. Woven into Lobo’s tale is her family’s experience of republic, revolution, and exile, as well as the author’s own struggle to come to grips with Cuba’s—and his family’s—turbulent history.

Prodigiously researched and imaginatively written, The Sugar King of Havana is a captivating portrait of the glittering end of an era, but also of a more hopeful Cuban past, one that might even provide a window into the island’s future.

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Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Paul | 11/14/2010

    " enjoyed the perspective and the writing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Maureen | 10/20/2010

    " I read this to get more information about Batista/Castro/etc. Not very inspiring writing, though. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Frances | 10/5/2010

    " Fascinating biography of Julio Lobo, as the title says, the last of Cuba's sugar tycoons. Having recently read the John Lee Anderson biography of Che, this was an excellent time to read this book, as it provides a capitalist portrait from those years before the revolution. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by JAK | 9/19/2010

    " I'm a sucker for anything on the history of Cuba from the 50s til now.... "

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About the Author

John Paul Rathbone was born in New York and raised in England. Currently the deputy head of the Financial Times’ prestigious Lex column, he is a graduate of Oxford and Columbia universities. He has worked as an economist and a journalist, as well as at the World Bank. His articles have appeared in many publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Britain’s Sunday Telegraph, Colombia’s El Espectador, and Esquire, where he was the business columnist from 2002 to 2003. He lives in London.