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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Domino Diaries

The Domino Diaries

My Decade Boxing with Olympic Champions and Chasing Hemingway's Ghost in the Last Days of Castro's Cuba

Brin-Jonathan Butler

Picador

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A powerful and lively work of immersive journalism, Brin-Jonathan Butler's story of his time chasing the American dream through Cuba

Whether he's hustling his way into Mike Tyson's mansion for an interview, betting his life savings on a boxing match (against the favorite), becoming romantically entangled with one of Fidel Castro's granddaughters, or simply manufacturing press credentials to go where he wants—Brin-Jonathan Butler has always been the "act first, ask permission later" kind of journalist.
This book is the culmination of Butler's decade spent in the trenches of Havana, trying to understand a culture perplexing to Westerners: one whose elite athletes regularly forgo multimillion-dollar opportunities to stay in Cuba and box for their country, while living in penury. Butler's fascination with this distinctly Cuban idealism sets him off on a remarkable journey, training with, befriending, and interviewing the champion boxers that Cuba seems to produce more than any other country.
In the process, though, Butler gets to know the landscape of the exhilaratingly warm Cuban culture—and starts to question where he feels most at home. In the tradition of Michael Lewis and John Jeremiah Sullivan, Butler is a keen and humane storyteller, and the perfect guide for this riotous tour through the streets of Havana.

Boston Globe Best Books of the Year

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HOW DID THIS WHITE MOTHERFUCKER GET INSIDE MY HOUSE?



MAYBE THE REAL SUBJECT of every interview is how you really can't learn much about anyone from an interview.

Back at his gym in Los Angeles, the only...

Praise for The Domino Diaries

“In The Domino Diaries, Brin-Jonathan Butler writes like a heavyweight champion: Tyson's power, Ali's elegance, and Joe Louis's humanity, all of them are on display here. Writing, like boxing, is a solitary endeavor, one that gets displayed nakedly, for better or worse, to the world. This engrossing work not only looks at the sweeping world, it delves into the darkness of being alone with your aloneness. A total knockout.” —Charles Bock, New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Children

“There's nothing in the world like America's grasping, oversexed, blundering, blustery and oft-deadly relationship with Cuba. Charting this fever dream, this illness of love and fear, requires a poet's ear, an outsider's eye, a boxer's clinical cruelty, and an unhealthy attraction to breakage. I give you Brin-Jonathan Butler. Anyone can--and, especially now, will--tell you what to think about Cuba. But no one can show you better how the place makes you feel.” —S.L. Price, Sports Illustrated Senior Writer and author of Pitching Around Fidel: A Journey into the Heart of Cuban Sports

“You don't have to be a boxing fan to enjoy Butler's book. The discussion of sport takes a back seat to the fascinating cultural insight and comparisons to American culture.” —Vice on A Cuban Boxer's Journey

“A subtle and powerful examination of Cuba, as seen through the eyes of its most celebrated boxers. Filled with memorable characters caught in the middle of an existential strug… More…

“In The Domino Diaries, Brin-Jonathan Butler writes like a heavyweight champion: Tyson's power, Ali's elegance, and Joe Louis's humanity, all of them are on display here. Writing, like boxing, is a solitary endeavor, one that gets displayed nakedly, for better or worse, to the world. This engrossing work not only looks at the sweeping world, it delves into the darkness of being alone with your aloneness. A total knockout.” —Charles Bock, New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Children

“There's nothing in the world like America's grasping, oversexed, blundering, blustery and oft-deadly relationship with Cuba. Charting this fever dream, this illness of love and fear, requires a poet's ear, an outsider's eye, a boxer's clinical cruelty, and an unhealthy attraction to breakage. I give you Brin-Jonathan Butler. Anyone can--and, especially now, will--tell you what to think about Cuba. But no one can show you better how the place makes you feel.” —S.L. Price, Sports Illustrated Senior Writer and author of Pitching Around Fidel: A Journey into the Heart of Cuban Sports

“You don't have to be a boxing fan to enjoy Butler's book. The discussion of sport takes a back seat to the fascinating cultural insight and comparisons to American culture.” —Vice on A Cuban Boxer's Journey

“A subtle and powerful examination of Cuba, as seen through the eyes of its most celebrated boxers. Filled with memorable characters caught in the middle of an existential struggle.” —Steve Fainaru, Pulitzer Prize–winning coauthor of The Duke of Havana: Baseball, Cuba, and the Search for the American Dream on A Cuban Boxer's Journey

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Reviews from Goodreads

Brin-Jonathan Butler

BRIN-JONATHAN BUTLER is a writer and filmmaker. His work has appeared in ESPN Magazine, Vice, Deadspin, The Wall Street Journal, Salon, and The New York Times. Butler's documentary, Split Decision, is Butler's examination of Cuban American relations and the economic and cultural paradoxes that have shaped them since Castro's revolution, through the lens of elite Cuban boxers forced to choose between remaining in Cuba or defecting to America.

image of Brin-Jonathan Butlero
Troy Turi

Picador

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