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Brooklyn-born Jay Cardinale, Vietnam War hero turned deserter, has fled to a commune in Canada. Aching to get back home he gets his shot at redemption in the form of a Faustian bargain: he can have a full pardon if he’ll go to Cuba and assassinate an American radical living there in exile. Jay says “no” only to discover he has no choice. He becomes a last-minute addition to the Venceremos Brigade, a group of idealistic Americans leftists heading south to work side-by-side with the Cubans in their vital sugar cane harvest. Once there, Jay cuts cane, finds love, is immersed in radical politics, plots murder, makes Fidel laugh, turns twenty-one, and becomes a new man.

Venceremos is in the traditional literary category of Bildungsroman. It relates the coming of age of its hero Jay during the 1960s. Although the focus is on Jay, Venceremos also aims to illuminate for readers how the Baby Boom generation struggled with the coming of adulthood in that conflicted time and how that struggle continues to resonate in American life today.

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