The Cuban Revolution saw the overthrow of General Fulgencio Batista, who himself had himself seized power in a military coup, after several years of armed struggle by the forces of Fidel Castro. Castro was a former lawyer who had been angered by Batista’s abolition of elections after he had seized power and his co-operation in the exploitation of Cuban resources by American businesses. Castro survived imprisonment and exile from his own country and fought a guerrilla war against government forces from 1953 to 1959.
Having forced Batista to flee the country Castro declared himself ‘President for Life’, but crucially on a platform of acting for the people of Cuba. Castro was socialist in his political outlook, desiring to see Cuban resources in the hands of the Cuban people and not foreign companies. This led to him being snubbed by his most powerful neighbour, the United States, and drove Cuba in the welcoming arms of the Soviet Union. Cuba became an ally of the Soviets, a fact which would increase the tensions of the Cold War exponentially, due to Cuba’s proximity to mainland America. This tension would reach its peak during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The expulsion of Batista and the rise of Castro’s Communist dictatorship would have a profound effect on world politics for the next fifty years, bringing the world to the brink of nuclear disaster. This revolution was the last in a series of armed conflicts fought by Cubans against the rule and exploitation of foreign powers. The first significant series of conflicts occurred in the second half of the eighteenth century and resulted in both Cuban independence from Spain and its immediate annexation by the United States. These independence conflicts shifted the antagonists for the Cuban nationalists from the Spanish imperialists to the American capitalists. In turn, this would encourage the growth of socialist ideologies and the ultimate rejection of America and the West and alignment with the Soviet Union.
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A small excerpt on the chapter on Indulgences from "History's Greatest Deceptions and Confidence Scams."
It’s unclear exactly when the practice of selling Indulgences was stopped, but it probably had something to do with the Reformation. The Reformation was the largest schism the Christian faith has ever seen, and like all great moments in Christianity, it started with something being nailed to a piece of wood.
The something was Martin Luther’s Ninety-five Theses, a scathing document about making Christianity more accessible to the common people, calling out Tetzel by name for charging people for salvation, and arguably claiming that the poor couldn’t afford to get into heaven. This was the protest that started Protestantism.
Luther translated the Bible into common vernacular, getting away from the Latin that the average person couldn’t understand. As an example of how little the average church-goer understood of what they heard: the magical phrase “hocus pocus” is actually a mishearing of the phrase “hoc es mea corpus”, meaning “this is my body” from the communion rites.
It’s probable that once believers could actually understand their holy book they came to realise that there wasn’t anything that directly mentioned Purgatory, let alone Indulgences. We can also assume that priests were a bit more careful about scamming their congregation with hip new competition down the street.
But, you may be asking, why wasn’t Protestantism stamped out by the Inquisition? That’s how the Church dealt with all its previous opponents. The thing was, all those previous “heretics” didn’t have the backing of a monarch. Protestantism, however, happened to come along just when Henry VIII of England was having an argument with the pope over whether or not he was married to Catherine of Aragon.
They couldn’t agree and so the Reformation found itself with a very powerful ally. It wasn’t long after that the Catholic Church issued an official decree condemning the abuse of Indulgences. They do still exist in a heavily altered form today, one much closer to a charitable donation to the Church.
Read more about indulgences and many other scams throughout human history in 'History's Greatest Deceptions and Confidence Scams' available on Amazon.
It’s been a labor of love to capture some of our favorite stories and delve deep into their details, finally putting them all down on paper. The hard part was really choosing which ones to include into this first book; there’s definitely going to be more!. There’s just too many amazing tales of deception and swindling out there not to chronicle them – I think about the sheer audacity of some of the greatest con-men over the ages and am constantly reminded of that phrase attributed to the great showman P.T.Barnum - “there’s a sucker born every minute”. I just don’t want to be one of them.
All the hours, days and weeks of research putting this book together have really provoked some deep reflection for me on human nature, and how we relate to others. While I still fundamentally believe that people are fundamentally good and honest, there’s always going to be an element out there that seeks the easy buck and the easy gain. It makes for some great storytelling!
Well, what can I say?
It took two years to get this project done. Today I received the first proofs of a book co written by myself and Mark.
Its Titled 'History's Greatest Deceptions and Confidence Scams"
It was intense. The research, the rewrites, the cleaning up, the editing, the formatting, the font selection, the paper color selection, I must have read the content over 100 times.
But we wanted to get it right. And, well.... Mark and I think it's a good collection of stories.
At this same time, I am writing a Historical Fiction story and co-writing another book on History's Greatest warriors, as well as working on a book about Alien life.
Busy times. Bursting creativity and late evenings. It truly is a labour of love.