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.

Precious Silver Chopsticks

Precious Silver Chopsticks ISBN: 9781544069968, copyright and written by Mae Adams.

Sub-titled “A true Story of a Korean Noble Family” this autobiography/memoire is written by an eighty-four-year-old Korean woman of considerable intelligence, fortitude and an amazing ability to survive and prosper. She was born in Seoul but raised in a rural mountain village under the old Korean class system by a grandfather of Noble birth now an herbal medicine practitioner and a step-grandmother who was a commoner. The new arrangement was the result of being rejected by her father and abandoned by her patrician, college educated mother because she was a later born female child who, as such, was rated worthless in the mores of the existing Korean system of the time. The grandparents nurtured her for considerable time until mother decided she could be helpful in maintaining her (the mother’s) support. Through the ensuing years, whether living together or apart, Mae became, and continued for the rest of her life, to be largely her mother’s major source. She suffered through several lean years while marrying ‘for convenience’, learning Japanese ways and language as well as the English language, suffering through the Japanese occupation, escape to South Korea and the ensuing Korean War. Finally she was able to meet and marry a U.S. Marine Colonel, gain a college degree in the United States and begin a new commercial endeavor building upon her earlier attained success. Still, she continued to be, one way or another, the basic person upon who everyone seemed to depend.

Discussion: The author has provided a story that memoire-autobiography readers will find poignant and discover themselves to be empathetically resentful at times. They probably will find it inspirational and certainly intriguing. The more practically thinking individual also will discover a wealth of information with respect to Korean historical facts – basic mores of society, eventual co-existence of Shamanism, Buddhism, Korean (a mixture of the two along with Astrology and nature worship), Confucianism, Christianism and some Shintoism from the Japanese influence. Also the topography and more about the Korean ‘Police Action’ which was somewhat of a ‘forgotten’ war for Americans who participated so as to be considered and treated rather similarly to those who served in the unpopular Viet Nam confrontation.

Conclusion: Certainly relieving catharsis for the author and a book of considerable interest for a diverse reading public.

5* Of considerable interest for a diverse reading public.