Tiempo de Canallas (Time for Scoundrels) by Carlos Alberto Montaner (♦♦♦)

El Amor, La Traición y La Muerte en la Guerra Fría (Love, Betrayal and Death in the Cold War)

Surrealist poet Rafael Mallo joins revolutionary movements in his youth and travels to the SSSR in the 1930s to actively participate in the international propaganda machine to recruit intellectuals for the communist cause. He feels ideologically closer to Trotsky than to Stalin, which may eventually endanger his life and that of those he holds dear.

He meets communist heavyweights from Europe and the Americas, but the turning point in his beliefs is the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, for he goes to fight along revolutionaries the world over, and is taken prisoner, freed on the border with France, and taken again by a fascist squadron and sent to Barcelona's Montjuich prison, where he remains, sentenced to death and interrogated daily, for the next seven years. Rafael is freed from prison, or rather escapes, by the intervention of a former lover of his, who proposes him to work together for the newly formed CIA.

Montaner's intention may have been to write a historical-fiction novel, but instead it feels like an anticommunist manifesto. Don't get me wrong, it was very informative and it's interesting to read how Moscow swayed the international public opinion about the apparent bounties of its ideology and political system, and how Americans counteracted--by setting in motion Plan Marshall to reconstruct Western Europe and free it from Moscow's influence, creating the CIA, and their support for the formation of organizations such as NATO and OEA--, but the novel feels more like an exposé than traditional historical-fiction. I think that Montaner has enough intellectual weight to write exposé articles if that's what he was after, without resorting to the novelization of the topic.

One of the problems I encountered while reading Time for Scoundrels, is that at times I didn't know who was a fictional figure and who was real, and to be honest at the end I didn't really cared to find out either way by using Wikipedia. Another thing I didn't like was the kinky sex talk between the protagonists. It was just a little too much. The kinkiness reminded me of Ken Follett's The Key to Rebecca, but Montaner is definitely not Follett.


  1. Interesting review. I don't think I'll be adding it to my TBR list!

  2. Interesting indeed; it was quite disappointing, Dorothy. My father read it as well and he agreed with me, though in Amazon it has good, even great reviews.


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