“At times Bob Kleberg seemed as ‘tough as his boot leather’ even as he could be ‘supple when the occasion required it.’
The Great Game in Cuba tells the story of Robert J. Kleberg Jr, the proprietor of the legendary King Ranch in Texas. During the 1950’s Kleberg’s ranch expanded across many countries. That feat required Kleberg to forge alliances with world leaders in order to operate in their respective countries’ territory. By the mid 1950’s, Kleberg expanded to Cuba where he established a satellite ranch and appointed Michael J.P. Malone who was on both the FBI’s and CIA’s payroll. Over time, the CIA began using Kleberg in order to unseat Cuba’s dictator Fidel Castro and install a pro-American government.
The Great Game in Cuba is a work of history, but reads like a spy novel. There are many characters in the book, each with their own agendas and ambitions. The author uses a variety of sources to tell her story and provides a full bibliography at the end so the reader can ascertain for themselves the validity of her research. I also liked the fact that the book includes a timeline of events as well as the cast of characters in the beginning making the process of remembering those tidbits as easy as flipping back and forth. The most important aspect of the book however, is its theme. The author shows how the wealthy and powerful use political connections to further their self-interest. Indeed, it may seem to the casual reader that Kleberg did indeed have the noble cause to feed the poor and the hungry, but in the end, it was purely about profit and self-indulgence.