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Fidel’s Life, In Two Volumes, Revealed In Havana

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Fidel Castro Makes Appearance 4/19/11

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HAVANA (CBSMiami) – In his day, Fidel Castro was known for speeches that lasted longer than some people could stay awake, a man who could go on for 5 hours without a thought. So is it any surprise that when he finally wrote a memoir, it would take two volumes…thick ones?

In a scene hearkening back to the glory days of Castro at the podium, for former Presidente, Castro spent six hours presenting that memoir to an audience at a Havana convention center Saturday.

It was one of the longest public appearances since Castro was forced from office by illness, leading to his retirement and a growing reputation for being a recluse.

In images shown on state TV, Castro was wearing his favorite garb, a track suit, but this time it was a dark suit over a plaid shirt. He was not shown speaking on TV, but Communist Party newspaper Granma said he told attendees Friday that they would hear about “two books that you haven’t had any news of.”

Granma said the two-tome memoir, “Guerrilla of Time,” fills nearly 1,000 pages and covers Castro’s life from childhood until December 1958, the eve of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution. It is based on interviews with journalist Katiuska Blanco. It apparently does not deal with later events, such as his problems with the United States, the Cuban Missle Crisis, or the illness that effectively ended his presidency.

“I have to take advantage now, because memory fades,” Granma quoted Castro as saying.

Castro, 85, is seldom seen in public these days, though he did show up at a Communist Party congress last April, holding the arm of an aide as he entered to a standing ovation and tears.

Granma said he mused about a wide range of topics Friday including visits from foreign dignitaries, world events and technological advances.

Essentially out of the public eye, Castro now speaks to Cubans through sporadic columns called “Reflections” that are published in government-run newspapers and painstakingly read aloud by newscasters.

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