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The Boys From Dolores

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Years before Fidel Castro rose to power, José Antonio Cubeñas beat him up after a high school stickball game — Castro had struck out, then thrown his bat and injured a player. Like many of Castro’s ex-classmates at Colegio de Dolores, one of Cuba’s top Jesuit schools, Cubeñas grew up to fear the man. Those boyhood relationships are the heart of The Boys From Delores, Patrick Symmes’ impressively researched tale, which details Castro’s school readings of Mussolini and Hitler, the 1959 revolution, and his schoolmates’ struggle to survive under his regime. Boys is a compelling, though occasionally disjointed, portrait of past and present Cuba. B+