Book: Cuba 1959: Photographs by Burt Glinn

On New Year’s Eve 1958, Magnum photographer Burt Glinn decided to fly to Cuba. News had spread that the corrupt dictator Fulgenico Batista was fleeing Havana and that Che Guevara and Fidel Castro were on their way to claim power. The next morning, Glinn arrived in the capital; the Cuban Revolution had ended.

Glinn spent the next 10 days documenting the events surrounding this historic moment. The photographs that he took during this period have now been compiled in a book by Reel Art Press, Cuba 1959, with an accompanying exhibition at Serena Morton II, London from 28 October.

“I was sharing the streets of Havana with hundreds of delirious Cubans,” recalls Glinn in the book. “Within four days, I had found Fidel, and by 10 January this project was completed.

“We neither slept nor ate regularly, nor bathed, on the nine-day trip to Havana. But those were great days. I learned then that a good cigar can be life-sustaining. But I also remember the wild hopes and the ominous portents that filled those few brief days.

“I only wished in all these years since then that Fidel had done the Cuban people better and that we had been smarter.”