From Library Journal:

A fascinating look at Havana, visually rich with hundreds of photos and other unique images, this addition to the literature on one of the world's urban architectural treasures is authored by an architectural historian. Moruzzi's fluid text embellishes the illustrations, drawn mostly from his own collection. Havana enjoys a captivating history, and the legacy of gambling, hotels, drugs, sex, and nightlife makes for an unparalleled reading experience. Moruzzi emphasizes the building boom of the 1950s, when American mob characters benefited from President Fulgencio Batista's corrupt regime and tourists flocked to the enchanted island a mere 90 miles from America, helped by airlines and cruise lines offering tour packages to Havana. The vivid descriptions of casinos and hotels, many still standing, bring a lost era to life. This attractive book is written for a popular audience but is highly recommended for academic as well as public libraries.

More Reviews

A jaunty, poignant portrait of the city in its pre-revolutionary heyday as a Caribbean playground. [The book] goes a long way toward filling in the mental picture of a city that has been enticingly evoked by movies such as "Our Man in Havana" (1959) and "The Godfather: Part II" (1974).

The Wall Street Journal

If you’re looking for images, "Havana Before Castro" has them in bulk. Peter Moruzzi’s infatuation with Cuba is illustrated in grand and grandiose style. It’s a pop-culture potpourri.


[The book] really put me there: It made me feel like I was staying in towering modernist hotels, ogling dancing girls at nightclubs like the Montmartre, swilling mojitos with Graham Greene and Meyer Lansky, and tapping my toes to the Orquestra Aragón.

Los Angeles Times

A most extraordinary book that fills my heart with profound love, sadness, and deep nostalgia.

Andy Garcia

In this important book Havana is revealed to be as significant and distinctive as Miami Beach and Las Vegas.

Alan Hess,
author of Googie Redux and
Oscar Niemeyer: Houses

...[includes] scores of photos that feature mid-century modern architecture – still the best, if you ask my opinion.

Tampa Tribune

A beautiful book that is a wonderful visual complement to "Havana Nocturne." It's easy to picture Havana in the 1950s because so much remains unchanged -- the cars, the clothes, the casinos waiting for a new government.

The Oregonian

Some day, I hope everyone gets a chance to explore Havana, both old and new. In the meantime, this book can take you there.

Cigar Aficionado

The text – which spans early history, economics, politics, and culture – is written with a lively, albeit winsome, air.

Society of Architectural Historians

In addition to revealing where all the brothels, casinos and cabaret joints were located in Havana, Moruzzi’s book features gorgeous photos of the women of the nightclubs and the men who partied with them.

The Desert Sun

If you're under 70, you'll need the book to know what we're missing.


The irony of Castro’s revolution ending an era and way of life, but preserving its memory for future generations at the same time, is delicious. As is Moruzzi’s book.

The Key West Citizen

...more than a coffee table book about Havana nights in the 1950's...the photo archive contained in this book's 250 pages is alone worth the price of admission.

The Cuban Triangle

This is a radiantly beautiful book which you'll long treasure as it provides a series of marvelous images, including paintings, photos, artists conceptual drawings and much more, of the Havana of the 50s.