Monday, Nov. 03, 2008

The Economist, Feb. 23, 2008

The Economist is known for its offbeat covers. At their worst they can be heavy handed, and at their best they can be brilliant. This one is in the brilliant category. It deals with Fidel Castro's legacy not by portraying its iconic subject in his fiery youth, but by cruelly pointing out that the only worthwhile thing that emerged from his years of rule is the Habano, the revered Cuban cigar. The particular cigar depicted, the Cohiba, was long a perk given to members of the Cuban Communist government and was eventually released for sale to the general public — although not, of course, in the U.S. The Cohiba became the symbol of high-end cigar consumption the world over. It's the only thing Cuba produced, besides music, that the rest of the world wanted or needed. And now it's just ashes, intellectually spent and soon to be snuffed out. This is sophisticated and ironic, designed to appeal to Economist readers, who well may have smoked a Cohiba or two in their time.