An American in Havana

Yet it was possible to see Morgan, with his brooding blue eyes and cigarette perpetually clamped between his teeth, as heralding a new social type: a beatnik, a rolling stone. A friend of Morgan’s once told a reporter, “Jack Kerouac was still imagining life on the road while Morgan was out there living it.”

The May 28 New Yorker has an amazing story by David Grann about an American who traveled to Cuba to fight in the Cuban revolution, only to be chewed up by the aftermath. The subject, William Alexander Morgan, is a petty criminal and drifting soul, who turned a revolution into the culmination of his search for meaning.

Grann illuminates the man and the nation he chose to identify with, proving equally adept with Morgan’s abandoned children and the brutality of one dictator that slides into the murderous repression of another.