Good Friends: Cigar box labels are a beautiful art form that often depicted scenes from European romantic literature or celebrated important historic events. Here the engraver chose to recognize the new relationship between the United States and the newly formed Cuban Republic following the island’s independence in 1902.
The Bacardi family expanded into the beer business with their Hatuey brand – named after the Taino Indian leader executed in 1512 – that quickly became Cuba’s most popular.
Despite the Depression of the 1930s, Cuba remained the playground of America’s elite.
Cuba endured a parade of corrupt presidents during its 56 years as a republic among whom Fulgencio Batista was perhaps the worst. Here First Lady Marta and President Batista emulate Argentina’s Evita and Juan Peron as they acknowledge their supporters.
After World War II, an American bachelor could hop a plane to Havana and receive a warm welcome upon his arrival.
The Floridita restaurant and bar remains the most popular spot in Cuba for imbibing a perfect daiquiri. It was also the place where Ernest Hemingway would drink his daily bowl of the rum, sugar, and lime juice cocktail whenever he was in Havana.
The beautiful modelos (models) who performed at Tropicana epitomized Cuban voluptuousness of the 1950s.
The Aunt Nena Club was one of Havana’s many brothels vying for American tourists before the revolution.
Havana’s carnival celebrated Lent with a parade of elaborate motorized floats that traveled down the Prado promenade and seaside Malecon. A uniquely Cuban element of carnival was the towering farola, or pole lantern, deftly balanced by parading dancers.
Chuy Reyes and his Hollywood Mocambo Orchestra represent just one of the many musical groups that brought Cuban music to a vast American audience after World War II.
After World War II, American mobsters Meyer Lansky and Santo Trafficante Jr. dominated Cuban gambling, erecting modern hotels complete with glittering casinos such as at the new Havana Riviera depicted above.
The Havana Riviera was mobster Meyer Lansky's crowning achievement when completed in late 1957. He had invested his entire fortune in the monumental hotel with its Copa nightclub, cocktail lounges, L'Aiglon dining room, and casino - and lost it all when Castro nationalized the property in 1960. It remains the best preserved mid-century Miami/Vegas style hotel in the world.
The most visible monument to America’s presence in Cuba was the towering Habana Hilton completed in 1958 less than one year before Castro’s revolution.
The ultra-modern Hotel Deauville with its curved corners and rooftop swimming pool typified the type of swank accommodations built to welcome American tourists in the 1950s.
This cluster of space-age cottages at Jibacoa Beach reflects the unique approach to modernism as practiced by Cuba’s many talented architects.
Castro was celebrated as a liberator when he and his ragtag army rolled into Havana in January 1959. Yet it was unclear at that time where his revolution would soon take the country.
Depicted is a rendering of the Tropicana nighclub's ultra modern "Crystal Arch Room" with its telescoping concrete arches separated by glass to reveal the tropical night. The building remains in all its glory for today's Tropicana cabaret performances as depicted in the book.