Rebels on the Mountain: A Classic
August 5, 2012
It’s hard to imagine investing the time to read Gone With The Wind on a Kindle. I wouldn’t have done it. Add about five or six hundred pages to Jack Durish’s first novel, Rebels on the Mountain, and you’d have a Cuban version of Margaret Mitchell’s venerable classic.
Fortunately for readers, Durish kept his book to a more manageable size without losing the thrills of the action in the Castro/Cuban revolution nor the emotions of a mixed race love story. The author also placed appropriate translations for Cubano and Spanish to English. The only Spanish sentence I can recite from high school is “el tocadiscos esta descompuesto,” the record player is broken. That bit of Spanish has really come in handy over the years.
When we first meet Nick Andrews, he is about to pilot a yacht from mainland U.S.A. to Cuba for some friends. His friends are setting up a medical clinic in Cuba and Nick claims he’s on an extended leave of absence from his unit in the U.S.Army.
Later, we learn that Andrews is a decorated war hero (Korea), an Airborne Ranger, and probably working with/for the C.I.A. He definitely has his finger on the pulse of both Cuba and Castro. At the same time, both he and his love interest confidently and continuously pursue each other.
A well-written historical novel, Rebels On The Mountain has lots to offer readers. We learn details of the Batista regime and life as his minions lived it and the changes the people expected from new leadership (Castro). Durish takes us into the rebel training camps and private meetings with the Fidelistas.
We meet the future dictator himself as well as his brother, Raul, and the notorious Che Guevara. It’s interesting that the man behind the iconic image of revolution and change turns out to be a ruthless murderer who was openly racist towards any and all Americans. In the end, Che fell from favor with Castro and became a victim of the ruthlessness that made him famous.
Durish writes with the confidence of someone that has earned the right to speak. He served in Viet Nam and has shown himself to be a meticulous researcher. When it comes to storytelling, Durish can deliver the letter to Garcia as well as Lieutenant Rowan.