"I love this book... More colorful than Godfather Part II... Great, great book, really interesting."

– Jon Stewart,
host of The Daily Show

"Excellent... Havana Nocturne has the air of a thriller with the bonus of being true... English provides a detailed account of the personalities and elements that made up Cuban life. His well-researched descriptions of how business, gambling, politics, revolution, music and religion all played off each other give Havana Nocturne a broad context and a knowledgeable edge."

– Tom Miller,
Washington Post Book World

"A tight storyteller, English provides a juicy mix of true crime and political intrigue, all set against the sexy sizzle of Havana nightlife."

– Rachel F. Elson,
San Francisco Chronicle

"All the razzle-dazzle is here, but English goes further, to show how gangsterismo permeated the politics of Cuba and influenced its destiny."

The Scotsman

"Engaging... clever... Havana Nocturne is thoroughly researched. English’s list of sources is impressive."

– Enrique Fernandez,
Miami Herald

"Wonderful... the book’s tour de force might be the account of the early morning hours of January 1, 1959... A well-researched page turner, highly recommended."

– Ned Sublette,
author of Cuba and Its Music

"Spellbinding prose... English painstakingly uncovers the history behind the mob’s influence in Cuba during the 1950s.."

– Vincent Bosquez,
San Antonio Express-News

"Keenly researched history... English describes a luscious island throbbing with sensuality."

– Todd G. Buchholz,
Wall Street Journal

"English’s engaging narrative reads with the gripping quality of fiction: the dark underworld of Havana comes to life in the author’s lively descriptions of gambling, drugs, and sex... Highly recommended."

Library Journal

"Fascinating... a colorful look back at pre-Castro Cuba."

– Tom Robbins,
The Village Voice

"Read this book through the prism of hot, illicit sex, and you see the power of the forbidden... English tells a sweeping story with more thrust than a mambo dancer... exciting... Havana Nocturne brilliantly explains how and why, after the Revolution, Fidel Castro would say, ‘We are not only disposed to deport the gangsters, but to shoot them.."

– Jesse Kornbluth,

"Entertaining... amazing."

– Howie Carr,
New York Post

Havana Nocturne cover
The Books sectionhead


How The Mob Owned Cuba... and Then Lost it to The Revolution

PAPERBACK: 396 pages
PUBLISHER: Harper Paperbacks
ORIGINAL PUBLISHER: William Morrow & Co. (2008)
ISBN-10: 0061147710
ISBN-13: 978-0061147715
ONLINE PURCHASE: Harper, Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Borders | Indiebound


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The city of Havana, circa 1920s. Meyer Lansky with an unidentified woman. The casino at the Hotel Riviera. The body of Albert Anastasia. Fidel Castro savors the moment.


In modern-day Havana, the remnants of its glamorous past are everywhere – the old hotel-casinos, vintage American cars, and flickering neon signs speak of a bygone era that is widely familiar and often romanticized, but little understood. In Havana Nocturne, T.J. English offers a riveting, multifaceted true tale of organized crime, political corruption, roaring nightlife, revolution, and international conflict that interweaves the dual stories of the mob in Havana and the event that would overshadow it, the Cuban Revolution. As the Cuban people labored under a violently repressive regime throughout the 1950s, mob leaders Meyer Lansky and Charles “Lucky” Luciano turned their eye to Havana. To them, Cuba was the ultimate dream, the greatest hope for the future of the American mob in the years of post-Prohibition and intensified government crackdowns.

But when it came time to make their move, it was the brilliant Jewish mobster, Meyer Lansky, who reigned supreme.  Having cultivated strong ties with the Cuban government and in particular the brutal dictator, President Batista, Lansky brought key mobsters to Havana to put his ambitious business plans in motion. Before long, the mob, with Batista’s corrupt government in its pocket, owned the biggest luxury hotels and casinos in Havana, launching an unprecedented tourism boom, complete with the most lavish entertainment, the world’s biggest celebrities, the most beautiful women, and gambling galore.  But their dreams collided with those of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and others who would lead the country's disenfranchised to overthrow their corrupt government and its foreign partners — an epic cultural battle that English captures in all its sexy, decadent, ugly glory.

Bringing together long-buried historical information with English’s own research in Havana – including interviews with the era’s key survivors, Havana Nocturne takes readers back to Cuba in the years when it was a veritable devil’s playground for mob leaders. English deftly weaves together the parallel stories of the Havana mob – featuring notorious criminals such as Santo Trafficante Jr., and Albert Anastasia – and Castro’s 26th of July Movement. Havana Nocturne offers a riveting, up-close look at how the mob nearly attained its biggest dream in Havana and how Fidel Castro trumped it all with the Cuban Revolution.

Upon publication in 2008, Havana Nocturne became a publishing phenomenon. After a highly-touted appearance by T.J. English on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the book rose to #7 on the New York Times best seller list, where it remained for six weeks. It also appeared on the following best seller lists: Wall Street Journal, USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Independent Booksellers. Along with the United States, Havana Nocturne has been published in the following countries: United Kingdom, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Taiwan, Brazil and France.