Our Woman in Havana

Pages: 336
Subject: History, Current Affairs
Imprint: Oneworld

Our Woman in Havana

Reporting Castro’s Cuba

Sarah Rainsford

A BBC correspondent's insight into a nation on the brink of change
9781786073990 (6 Sep 2018)
RRP £18.99 / US$27.95
9781786075802 (6 Jun 2019)
RRP £9.99 / US$16.95

The Book

It was only when I reread Our Man in Havana that I realised I shared a street with the hapless spy hero of Graham Greene's novel. My office was just a short distance from the fictional vacuum cleaner store run by Jim Wormold… A piece of paper strapped to the swirling, rusted window bars announces that the lower floor flat is for sale. I wonder if the owner's selling up to leave Lamparilla and the ‘ruins of Havana', like Wormold.

Sixty years ago, Graham Greene watched as the Cuban revolution unfolded and Batista's regime collapsed. Now, as the Castro era comes to a close, Sarah Rainsford, formerly the BBC's ‘woman in Havana', reports on the lives shaped by Fidel's giant social experiment and the feelings of a nation as his brother Raul steps down.

She encounters entrepreneurs full of hope and the disillusioned still looking for a way out. She meets a boxing legend who credits everything he has to the revolution and the dissidents caught on surveillance cameras every time they set foot outside their homes. 

She also discovers the trailblazing work of Ruby Hart Phillips, New York Times correspondent in Havana 1937-61 - and a rare woman journalist in a macho world - who reported every step of the revolution and came face to face with Fidel himself.

Through these stories and those still being told, Our Woman in Havana weaves an enthralling, atmospheric portrait of this enigmatic country as it teeters, once more, at a historic crossroads.

Additional Information

Subject History, Current Affairs
Pages 336
Imprint Oneworld


About the Author

Sarah Rainsford has been a BBC foreign correspondent for fifteen years, beginning in Moscow, where her team's coverage of the Beslan school siege won the SONY Gold Award. She has since been based in Istanbul and Madrid and worked in Afghanistan, Iraq and Ukraine. She was posted to Havana in 2011. This is her first book.


‘An unmissable insight into a still hidden world.'

- Mishal Husain

‘[A] colourful and affectionate account of this complex and fascinating place.'

- Literary Review

‘Rainsford confronts a country of enigmatic contradictions with eyes and heart wide open in this fascinating, enlightening read.'

- Booklist

‘Sarah Rainsford has written a lively and detailed account of her time in Havana and evokes the spirit of Graham Greene in delightful and surprising ways.'

- Thomas P. O’Connor, director of Dangerous Edge: A Life of Graham Greene, and Professor Emeritus, James Madison University