A cold July in Cuba

A Cold July in Cuba ISBN: 9781599328560, Advantage Group, a biography/memoir copyright and written by Ray F. Ledon, M.D.

The author, a board certified physician in internal medicine and gastroenterology after serving as chief resident at UMDNJ is now a prominent member of that state’s medical community. His book, sub-titled “Recollections of My Father, the Revolutionary”, provides details of the trials and tribulations of his father, a physician renown for establishing the first Department of Anesthesiology in Cuba as he fought the corrupt administration of Batista, was apprehended, beaten, starved and threatened with death, saved miraculously to became Castro’s Minister of Health establishing services for the people throughout Cuba. Attempting to overlook the new regime’s anti-freedom activities that gradually but inexorably were ruining the lives of the very people they purportedly had attempted to save, he again became politically involved, participated in the poorly planned and executed Bay of Pigs invasion, and eventually escaped to Spain and then Canada. These are the memories of the young son who was old enough to establish a lasting bond with his father as he too was forced later to escape with his mother and younger sister and of the hard times he and they suffered devoid of a father until finally arriving at their present situations in life.

Discussion: This recounting of details of one family’s activities during the Cuban ‘revolutions’ must be accepted for what it is. Specifically, a number of readers will remember the endless accounts published at the time and subsequent books on the Cuban revolts. They were a prominent part of any American’s life for several years creating intense interest. Thus, if a reader is looking for anything ‘new’, it is not to be found here. In fact, it would be unnatural for a young child, to understand the extent of corruption and associated factors present in his world. The author makes it quite clear that he has no intent other than to describe his recollections and how he and his family were affected by these catastrophic changes and how they came about in large part because of his father’s participation as a Cuban revolutionary. Also evident is the sub-consciously haunting but unallowable memory of a young boy with a loving attachment to a father who sacrificed a beautiful family relationship because of an overpowering love of his country followed by bad choices. Such repressive reaction is understandable because of his similar love of country and his early established bond with the father that had no subsequent replacement. Yet, according to the substance of this book, parts of the father’s subsequent activity seemingly still are somewhat difficult to keep from occasionally ‘peeking out of’ that suppressive capsule.

Summary: If you are a reader who enjoys memoirs, and especially those with interesting psychological undertones, this book is for you.

5* For memoir genre devotees an interesting psychological aspect.

Fallen to Tyranny

Fallen to TYRANY, From Mauthausen to Gulag ISBN: 9781477213707 (soft cover) Authorhouse publisher, a collection of personal memories by Thomas Z. Lajos.

Recently I received a gift of this small book written by a physician who was born and originally trained in Budapest. He escaped the Soviet troops in 1956 to Austria, Canada and finally the United States where he became a well-known and highly respected cardiovascular surgeon and Professor at New York State University there. The story is about his uncle, Dr. Ivan Lajos a true Hungarian patriot who was under constant attack first by the Nazis and then by Stalin’s regime. His offense? Being an outspoken visionary politician and patriot of untouchable integrity dedicated to his family and to his country and to its survival as such. As with many of those individuals who disagreed with the principles espoused by either of these regimes, many of the specifics of his interment and interrogations never have never come to light. Instead there are rumors, bits and pieces of his activity and other often only tangentially associated. However the author has done a remarkable job of piecing together what has been gleaned over the ensuing years and assembled into this book. Included are notes on the beginnings of trouble in Europe followed by the Nazi occupation and finally “Russian Liberation” in 1945. Particularly interesting is the fact that Ivan survived imprisonment in the infamous Nazi Mauthausen, only to be sentenced to fifteen years at hard labor in one of Stalin’s equally infamous Gulag’s, a.k.a. death camps. A chronological list of Ivan’s “Political Saga During and after the Events of WW II” also are included along with his bibliography and publications. Numerous illustrations are included with one particular map startlingly depicting the number and distribution of Stalin’s Gulags. Perhaps not so surprising since Stalin is accredited with killing more prisoners than even the Nazi’s.

Conclusion: An interesting quick read of how the patriots of another small European country fared during WW II and the subsequent shuffling between the major powers that often led to further tragedy.

5* A true martyr whose story should not be lost.