The Ohioan Who Fought Alongside Castro (Part One)

CLICK TO LISTEN TO Ep. 8: Ohio v Revolution (Part 1)

In Part 1 of a 2-part episode, Alex reveals the fascinating story of the American Comandante, William Alexander Morgan of Toledo, Ohio and how his unlikely service in the Cuban Revolution of the 1950s changed world history. We look at the story of the Cuban Revolution of Fidel Castro on the whole and the improbable victory of the Cuban rebels over the dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959. This story was too good to fit into one episode and Part 2 of “Ohio v. Revolution” will come out next Tuesday August 10, 2021. 

We are joined by author and journalist Michael Sallah to discuss William Morgan’s crazy life story and Michael’s excellent book Yankee Comandante: The Untold Story of Courage, Passion and One American’s Fight to Liberate Cuba (2019). Michael details William’s privileged youth and juvenile delinquency in “The Glass City”. From jumping off roofs, to running away to join the circus, even going AWOL while in the Army, to being an associate of the Toledo mafia. There’s not a more unlikely revolutionary leader in the Cuban War for Independence. Buy Michael’s book here, a truly fantastic read.

Our second guest Juan Santamarina, professor of history at the University of Dayton. Born in Cuba shortly after the Revolution, Juan takes us through the history of Cuba-American relations in the first half of the 20th Century leading to Castro and Morgan’s separate guerrilla movements in the mountains of Cuba. Professor Santamarina shares the story of the brutal dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista and his surprising resignation on New Years Eve 1958. 

Lastly, we’re joined by Australian writer and historian Tony Perrottet. Tony, who writes for Smithsonian Magazine is the author of the great book Cuba Libre!: Che, Fidel and the Improbable Revolution That Changed World History (2019). Tony takes us inside Fidel Castro’s revolutionary movement in the Sierra Maestra Mountains in Eastern Cuba from his disastrous landing in 1956 to their stunning victory in 1959. Castro was not a communist during the war but we begin to see that shift in the year following his successful revolution and taking power as Prime Minister of Cuba. He would remain in power for nearly 50 years. Buy Cuba Libre! here.

Ohio v. the World: an American History Podcast is part of the Evergreen Podcast Network Check out all or old shows there. Please rate/review the show as well on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. We’ll be back with the conclusion of this story next week in Episode 8: Ohio v. Revolution (Part Two). That’s when things really get crazy for William Morgan and the Cuban Revolution. You can email the show at 

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