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Tauler, Arnoldo
El general Sombra.
(The Phantom General)

U.S.: Pureplay Pr. 2004. 296p. ISBN 0-9714366-5-7. pap. $22.50. FIC

Set in revolutionary Cuba, this thriller plays with the boundaries between fiction and history as Tauler, a Cuban writer and film director living in Miami, retells the Cuban government’s controversial execution of Cuban general Arnoldo Ochoa. It is 1989, and communism is in a stage of global collapse. Although the Cuban military is still loyal to the revolutionary government, a small faction of distinguished officers is plotting to take over Castro’s governing cabinet during a meeting at the Palacio de la Revolución. Fearful that General Ochoa, Cuba’s most popular military figure, is the phantom general behind the military insurrection, Castro decides to indict and execute him on charges of facilitating drug trafficking into the United States. The post-Cold War setting makes for a page-turning thriller. Readers will be intrigued with Tauler’s intricate descriptions of Castro’s sophisticated spying system in Havana, featuring a strong presence of CIA and KGB agents. Some students of Cuban revolutionary history may find the novel biased in its strong anti-Castro indictment, particularly the long passages portraying Fidel and Raúl as one-dimensional modern dictators. Still, this fictionalized account of General Ochoa’s controversial execution should be of interest to those who reject the regime. Recommended for bookstores serving Cuban communities as well as for libraries with strong Cuban literature collections.

—Rafael Ocasio, Agnes Scott Coll., Decatur, GA


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