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Cuba
Portrait of an Island
text Ron Base; photography by Donald Nausbaum

8 1/2" x 10" • 112 pages • color photos
ISBN 9781566565790 • hardback • $29.95

In this unique collection of vibrant and enchanting photographs, Donald Nausbaum has captured the essence of Cuba, the Caribbean’s most fascinating island. Cuba has long preoccupied the imagination of photographers, with its spectacular contrasts of lush scenery and historic architecture. Generations of artists and travellers have visited this magnificent Caribbean island, which is described in an evocative and information-packed introduction by Ron Base. In Cuba: Portrait of an Island, Donald Nausbaum presents us with a superlative collection of images showing the island in all its diverse, spectacular beauty.

The streets of Havana show a surreal mix of grandeur and decay but it retains a defiant elegance. Through its ruins there is a glimpse at its wildly vibrant nightlife, before settling on a rooftop to watch the sun set on this special city. Cuba’s misty valleys, its grand colonial architecture, its stunning coastline and idyllic beaches are all waiting to be discovered by the unsuspecting visitor.

Nausbaum’s portrait gives us a real sense of the island’s scenery and evokes the rich diversity of Cuban life capturing images, which make us really feel Cuba. It takes us down spicy streets filled with music and the candy colors of the ubiquitous classic cars. It shows us, through snapshots, the essential elements of Cuban culture, from vivid pictures of gnarled, mahogany textured just-rolled cigars to images of bright carnival, of Cubans of every age dancing in every style to the incessant musical heart beat of the island. Cuba’s fascinating political past and pervasive political mood, described in detail in Ron Base’s introduction, also shows us its walls and billboards and its T-shirts plastered with that picture of Che Guavara, and the brightly painted political slogans and scrawled graffiti. In its most touching moments, this portrait shows us the humanity of Cuba, the children with cheeky faces playing in the streets, the old men making music together, the workers and the mothers and the activists, all brought together in this portrait of an island dancing in the sun.

Travelling frequently to the Caribbean, Nausbaum uses his camera to capture the very essence of the region, its breathtaking beauty, its culture, and its people. This skilled photo journalistic essay unlocks the treasures of Cuba, presenting a visual summation of its eclectic, exuberant atmosphere for those unfamiliar with the island and new images that are bound to startle and engage those who know and love it. Nausbaum presents us with a magnificent portrait of the Cuba described to us in the introduction: it is an island lodged in the imagination, haunted by old ghosts and faded glamor, felt as a shiver in your spine. It is complicated, conflicted and, ultimately, completely absorbing.


Donald Nausbaum
is an inveterate traveller, having photographed in more than 60 countries in North and South America, Asia, Europe, and Africa. He lives in Toronto with his wife and two children. His photographs have appeared in a variety of newspapers, magazines, airline in-flight magazines, and travel guides. He is the author of Caribbean: The Islands.

Ron Base is a novelist and screenwriter and has been fascinated with Cuba ever since his first visit in 1971. He currently lives in Montreal.

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Che Guevara
Caribbean
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