Tag Archives: Che Guevara

Radikal Readings: Remembering Che

Almost 50 years after his death, Ernesto “Che” Guevara is still one of the most controversial figures in politics and popular culture. I can attest to this as someone I was on my recent trip to Cuba displayed disgust and hatred for him, while others expressed admiration. I’ve read a few of Guevara’s books in the past, so when I saw this one in Cuba by his wife Aleida March, I had to pick it up.

This book is touted as being a personal look at the man behind the legend. Aleida shares details of their personal life together. Moments of humor, intimacy, and the depth of their love for one another and their four children. It was a touching look at the man that Aleida loved so passionately, along with the revolutionary figure that is so well known around the world. It’s also full of personal photos – the cover being my favorite of them all.

It’s not without it’s faults as she clearly, with good reason I’m sure, holds back much of their personal anecdotes. What I truly wish was that the reader would get a chance to know more about Aleida herself and all the sacrifices she made as a woman to help her husband focus on his goals.

50 years later, Che’s image is still plastered all throughout Cuba and he continues to be a symbol of revolution. Remembering Che: My Life with Che Guevara, was a nice read to try and understand the man behind the symbol.

FullSizeRender (14)

Photo by: Radhika Jit/California

Radikal Readings: Latin America Diaries

photo

After reading The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto Guevara (Che), I decided to pick up the continuation of that, which Guevara himself called Otra Vez. This diary is a contination of Che’s travels through Latin America, this time without Alberto Granado. He visits Peru, Guatemala, and Mexico (where he would meet Fidel Castro).

This diary includes his entries, as well as letters to his mother, aunt, and friends, as well as poetry and a few journalistic pieces. It is definitely much rougher as Che didn’t get a chance to edit and compile this diary as he did with The Motorcycle Diaries.

It is an interesting look at how Che’s mindset changed from that first trip and continued changing throughout this journey. He also writes about meeting Hilda Gadea who would become his first wife. Again, it’s an interesting look into Ernesto Guevara, and not the myth and legend that was created. A quick read, it’s a must for those interested in his work.

The Sea

photo

The full moon is silhouetted against the sea, smothering the waves with silver reflections. Sitting on a dune, we watch the continuous ebb and flow, each with our own thoughts. For me the sea has always been a confidant, a friend absorbing all its told and never revealing those secrets; always giving the best advice – its meaningful noises can be interpreted anyway you choose. For Alberto, it is a new, strangely perturbing sight, and the intensity with which his eyes follow every wave building, swelling, then dying on the beach, reflects his amazement… The fresh wind fills the senses with the power and mood of the sea; everything is transformed by its touch…

– Ernesto “Che” Guevara, The Motorcycle Diaries

Radikal Readings: The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey

photo-4

Ernesto “Che” Guevara the man is hard to separate from the revolutionary icon he became. Yet The Motorcycle Diaries attempts to do that as the man himself writes notes from the journey through Latin America that forever changed his life. This journey was well before he became Che Guevara, and chronicles what started out as an adventurous trek with his friend Alberto Granado, and turns into an awakening for the compassionate observers of humanity.

After watching a number of documentaries on the Cuban Revolution and Che himself, I wanted to read in his own writing a bit more into his personal life and this life-altering journey. It actually isn’t that insightful if you are looking for a full account of his personal life, yet it is a moving account of Latin America at the time. From his detailed account of Machu Pichu to the visit to the leprosy camp, the travelogue is a perfect read for a would-be or aspiring adventurer.

No matter your thoughts on his revolutionary tactics and his politics, it is hard to deny that Che was absolutely brilliant. The writing is quite eloquent and the events and journeys he describes are punctuated with wit, humor, and style. It is fascinating to get a glimpse into the mind of such a larger than life icon and discover the change that caused him to become the revolutionary icon that he is remembered as today.

The Motorcycle Diaries allows you to take Alberto Granado’s place for a moment and live those adventures with Che. It makes you long to get out on the open road just as Che and Alberto did all those years ago and gives you insights to his philosophies. A great read.

Radikal Readings: Looking for History: Dispatches from Latin America

photo 2

This is another case of picking up a book found on a whim at my local bookstore. Latin America’s political history (and present) is fascinating. As many describe it, living in Latin America, politics is always at the surface. The book is a collection of journalistic pieces which touch on figures like Fidel Castro, Eva Peron, and Che Guevara, but the bulk of the chapters are focused on Mexico’s Zapatistas and the PRI, the Colombian narco-terrorists, and more. Nations covered include Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Argentina, and Cuba.

Many of these essays first appeared in the New Yorker, but years later are still captivating reads if you are interested in the history and politics of Latin America. Guillermoprieto is fair and balanced, delivering unromantic versions of figures and events. A very insightful read that is a good primer for Latin America’s political history.