Secrets of the Cuban Revolution

featuring author Tony Perrottet

Jan 25, 2023
5:30 PM | Bar opens
6:30 PM | Program
7:30 PM | Dinner
Open to Coffee House and Salmagundi members
Program is FREE to attend
Eventbrite RSVP required
$50 + tax (no tip) for prix fixe dinner; includes wine
Reservations for dinner required; card payments only
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You will have the option of RSVP-ing for the event alone, or for both the talk and dinner. Dinner must be pre-paid via Eventbrite.
For any questions, please email Brittney at

About the Event

How did a handful of motley college grads teach themselves to become guerrillas and overthrow one of the most sinister military regimes of Latin America?

We’re all familiar with the basics of the Cuban Revolution of 1956-9, led by two of the 20th century’s most charismatic figures, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. But less is remembered about the amateur nature of the upstart movement, or the lives of its players.

Fresh from his recent return to Havana, Smithsonian, NYT and WSJ writer Tony Perrottet will present an illustrated lecture to unravel the tragicomic human drama behind history’s most improbable revolution. Drawing on his popular book ¡Cuba Libre! he will survey how a scruffy handful of self-taught subversives, many of whom were callow young lawyers, literature majors, and art students defeated the 40,000 professional soldiers of the dictator Fulgencio Batista.

Why was Fidel’s childhood nickname el loco, “the crazy one,” and why was Che called by his fellow guerrillas el chancho, “the pig”? How did Fidel’s highly organized lover Celia Sánchez whip the male guerrillas into shape? Who were the two dozen American volunteers who joined the Cuban rebels? And on a practical note: How do you make land mines from condensed milk cans—or, for that matter, cook chorizo à la guerrilla?

NOTE: At a special discount of $25, hardcover copies of ¡Cuba Libre! (Penguin) will be available for sale and signing. Payments can be made with cash or through Venmo.

a poster of two men with hats and beards.

About the Speaker

Tony Perrottet

Tony Perrottet is the author of six books — a collection of travel stories, Off the Deep End: Travels in Forgotten Frontiers (1997); Pagan Holiday: On the Trail of Ancient Roman Tourists (2002); The Naked Olympics: The True Story of the Greek Games (2004); Napoleon’s Privates: 2500 Years of History Unzipped (2008); The Sinner’s Grand Tour: A Journey Through the Historical Underbelly of Europe (2012); and most recently, ¡Cuba Libre!: Che, Fidel and the Improbable Revolution that Changed World History (2019).

From his current home in the East Village of Manhattan, he has continued to commute to Iceland, Tierra del Fuego, Beijing, Tasmania and Zanzibar, while contributing to international publications including Smithsonian Magazine (where he is a Contributing Writer), the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal Magazine, Condé Nast TravelerEsquireOutside, Afar and the London Sunday Times. His travel stories have been translated into a dozen languages and widely anthologized, having been selected seven times for the Best American Travel Writing series. He is also a regular television guest on the History Channel, where he has spoken about everything from the Crusades to the birth of disco.


If you plan to stay for dinner, and would like to have the prix-fixe, you may pre-pay when RSVP-ing via Eventbrite to guarantee your prix-fixe meal reservation or order from the prix-fixe when you come in. Otherwise, you are welcome to order from the a la carte menu (wine is not included when ordering a la carte). Thank you!

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