Playa Giron...

...The Cuban Exiles Invasion at the Bay of Pigs 1961, from Helion & Company, distributed by Casemate.


Title:  Playa Giron

Author: Santiago Rivas

Publisher:  Helion & Company

ISBN:  978-1-911096-02-3


A large format softcover book in their Latin American at War series this one covers one of the most famous incidents from the early 1960s, the story of the landings at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba in 1961.  I was very young when this took place, and while aware of it have never really known the detail of what happened.  As a neutral, I found this a fascinating detailed and overall excellent account of what happened all those years ago.  The revolutionary leader of Cuba, Fidel Castro only died as recently as November 2016 so that will give more interest in this book I am sure.

The background to the circumstances of the revolution, and the organisation of the 'Cuban Exiles' who were involved in this attempt to overthrow the revolution makes for good reading.  In part I felt it helped explain why the Cubans wanted a revolution in the first place and the subsequent involvement and interest of the US government as well.  The organisation, training and equipping of the Cuban Exiles was backed by the CIA, a covert operation to overthrow another government for their own interests.  It even involves pilots from Air America, the CIA operated airline which gained further notoriety for their operations in South East Asia.  The aircraft involved are largely left over WW2 era machines, as were those which equipped the Cuban FAR air force.  The Cubans even operated a small number of T-33 jets, but serviceability and availability of pilots limited their contribution.

The detail of the training of the exiles, all the time trying to hide the US involvement and then the support they provided for the landings themselves was extensive, though I had to smile at the account of a planned having the use of a US submarine to land a demolition team on the landing beaches was changed to a surface vessel because the CIA assigned agent was claustrophobic!  You'd have thought they might have checked the file of that agent when selecting him for the mission on the first place.  At the end of the day the landings were defeated, despite some initial success.  To accompany the story throughout there are lots of archive photos throughout the book, along with maps and some fine colour profiles of both aircraft and military vehicles which were involved.  If you would like to know more about this historic event of the Cold War, then this is an excellent choice.  Interesting for the historian and the modeller and in a good value book as well.

Helion & Company books are distributed in the UK by Casemate UK.