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Companero: The Life and Death of Che Guevara [Paperback]

Jorge Castaneda , Marina Castaneda
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.99
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Book Description

25 Jun 1998
Ernesto Che Guevara, an Argentinian doctor of middle-class parents, rose to fight with Fidel Castro in the Cuban revolution and later tried to spread that revolution in other countries in Latin America and Africa. This is an account of a man who became a cultural icon to a generation.

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Companero: The Life and Death of Che Guevara + Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life + The Motorcycle Diaries
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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; New edition edition (25 Jun 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747535205
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747535201
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 437,233 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'Castaneda unearths a mine of curious details...'Companero' is superbly researched and commendably sceptical.' -- Sunday Times

'Excellent' -- Literary Review

From the Publisher

This is both a reassessment of Che's career and an enlightened portrait of the man: his mother, his marriages, his narcissism, his willful determination, his rage. Above all he emerges as an idealist of unique historical timing, who most closely embodied the deeper meaning of the 1968 student rising, whose last call for a modern Utopia still resonates at the close of a century bereft of Utopias.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books available on Che Guevara 3 Nov 2008
Having read about half a dozen biographies on Che Guevara (written by a myriad of authors with different perspectives & objectives), I can confidently say that it is Castaneda, an eminent political scientist, who has written the most elegant and constructive evaluation of the life of Che Guevara. Although the book lacks the baroque detail of, say, Anderson's or Taibos' acclaimed biographies, Castaneda makes a moving and profound analysis. And unlike Anderson, who, as a somewhat mercenary journalist, comes across as calculating and contrived in his so-called "objectivity", Castaneda's sincerity shines like a beacon.

The only negative point of "Companero" is that the first half of the book appears to be somewhat rushed compared to the dazzling second half. Castaneda clearly prefers to write about Che Guevara from 1959 onwards. However, this criticism does not detract me from giving this book the five stars it deserves.

Because "Companero" is more of an "evaluation" than a full-blown biography, it lacks the detail of Anderson's, or the profound intimacy of Taibo's, books, so if you have time, read at least one of these first.

Another book I would highly recommend is the newly-released "Evocacion", written by Che Guevara's widow, containing a selection of previously-unpublished letters, including a heartrending, prophetic and immensely revealing poem written to her before he died. I can only presume that Castaneda, Anderson and Taibo's biographies would have been quite different had the authors come across this material at the time of writing their books. In fact, I suspect that Che Guevara's widow decided to finally release it after reading these biographies (notably Anderson's) - in order to close the circle once and for all.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Exhaustive and Exhausting 26 Oct 2009
By MisterKeith VINE VOICE
I was looking for an in-depth biography of Che Guevara and I picked up this. I certainly got "in-depth": this is absolutely exhaustive in its research - the level of detail is phenomenal with the minutiae of every aspect of Guevara's life picked over. Other biographers are quoted and challenged, and the author has clearly spoken to as many of the people still living as he could possibly get to. Motivations are discussed, though you must wander how much is accurate and how much is assumed and pieced together. Whilst this book fills in the gaps for those of us with a very sketchy knowledge of the subject, after a while the intricacies of Cuban and Socialist politics do start to wear you down and become heavy-going - I would guess that this book has taken me about 10 times as long to read as a "normal" book of this length, if only because some paragraphs I've had to re-read to ensure that I've understood them correctly!

An excellent study then, but if you're looking for "the story" and not "the detail", look elsewhere.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Delivers exactly what it says on the jacket 13 Nov 2002
This book is a heavy read, alot of detail and supporting evidence but it rewards the reader with an objective account of the man over the idol.

I must admit I started skipping the footnotes about a 3rd of the way through. These numerous footnotes added overwhelming amounts of minutiae and I found the book rattled along nicely without them (whilst still providing plenty of detail).

I found it’s objective tone absolutely spot on, delivering the man in the context of his times as well as showing an appreciation of the impact of his death upon 60’s and current day culture, without resorting to idolatry. The sceptic tone captured the faults of the man but then also served to highlight the many admirable qualities of the socialist revolutionary against a background untainted by hero-worship or sycophancy.

I came away with a feeling that I’d read an accurate, thorough and perceptive account of the man and his place in events.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Viva la revolucion! 28 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Bought this book as I was keen to broaden my knowledge on the magnificent Ernesto 'Che' Guevara. There are many books out there on Che and I was a bit confused as to what one to choose. I didn't have much knowledge on Che Guevara and have always found his life fascinating so I was very fussy as to which book to read to give me a good insight into Mr. Guevara's life. After reading many reviews and consulting a few friends and family I decided to choose this one. Thoroughly enjoyed the book from start to finish as it gives an interesting and detailed account of the trials and tribulations of Mr Guevara. Some of the politics was a bit confusing but I think another read of the book it will become much clearer. Excellent
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3.0 out of 5 stars Decent biography but highly subjective 30 Jan 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a decent biography of Che in that it covers the base points and raises questions that may, or may not, be answered in the fullness of time.

On the other hand it also full of innuendo, gossip and tittle tattle, particularly as it relates to the subject's personal life, and is replete with conclusions that have little or no basis in fact, simply in the author's interpretation. An example is the author's interpretation of a letter Che sent to his mother on his first lengthy trip overseas. Minor but irrelevant inclusion of the author's opinion nonetheless.

The author opines that Che is responsible for the many wasted lives, those inspired by him who were to lay down their own lives after his death, he calls it Guevara's debt to history. This is a classic of revisionists, particularly of the chattering classes of the leftist intelligentsia who leave behind their former beliefs and idealism. Anyone who rose up and started a revolution or rebellion is held responsible for all the future bloodshed, the young lives needlessly wasted, and so it commonly goes on along those lines.

A worthwhile read, some interesting points and observations, but also very subjective and filled with the author's 20/20 hindsight.
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