about Peter Moruzzi

An architectural historian by profession, Peter Moruzzi is an acknowledged expert on mid-century Modern architecture and design. Born in Concord, Massachusetts, in 1961 and raised in Hawaii, Moruzzi graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and later attended the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. author: Peter Moruzzi He resides in the Silver Lake district of Los Angeles and in Palm Springs, California. He has been obsessed with the history of Cuba since 1987.


Read Chapter Excerpts

Old Havana comes alive through engaging writing and hundreds of images -- archival photos, posters, and other memorabilia -- beautifully married throughout the book's 256 pages. See for yourself by downloading these excerpts (from chapters 6 and 12): "Drinking, Dining, and Dancing" (1,084 KB) and "Havana Riviera" (1,457 KB).

Book Excerpt, chapter 6
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about the book

Through vintage and contemporary photographs, brochures, and artifacts evocative of time and place, Havana Before Castro tells the story of the city that was the most popular exotic destination for Americans during the forty years between World War I and Castro’s revolution.

  • See how Havana evolved from Prohibition haven and rich man’s playground to a heady blend of glittering nightclubs, outrageous cabarets, all-night bars, and backstreet brothels. rum, sugar, and cigars in Havana
  • Visit Havana’s seamy Shanghai Theatre as well as its glamorous Tropicana, roam the stately Hotel Sevilla-Biltmore and ultramodern Habana Hilton.Havana at Night's cabaret life
  • Savor a daiquiri at La Floridita (one of Hemingway’s favorite watering holes), rub elbows with movie stars at Sloppy Joe’s bar, and learn why Cuban cigars remain the world’s most highly prized.la floridita
  • Celebrate the influence of Cuban music on American popular culture—the rumba, mambo, cha-cha-chá, and salsa—from its earliest stars such as Xavier Cugat and Desi Arnaz to modern acts like the Buena Vista Social Club.musicians and dancers
  • Celebrate the city’s architectural heritage, a Havana Modernism unique to Cuba’s topography and climate. Cuba's modern architecture
  • Follow the parade of corrupt presidents who, along with American mobsters such as Meyer Lansky, welcomed the mass tourism that led to Havana becoming a tropical Vegas swirling in a haze of rum and cigars, backed by a conga beat.Frank Sinatra, the mob, and Cuban connection

Continue exploring the book through chapter summaries, photos, and chapter excerpts (chapter 6 and chapter 12).