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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "El Che", South America and adventure...
I thought the 2004 film "Diarios de Motocicleta" was beautiful, with enthralling performances from Gael Garcia Bernal and sumptuous South American scenery. However the film has been accused of glorifying "El Che" and neglecting to feature the darker elements to his soul, rendering Guevara a squeaky-clean paragon of charity.

The book, on the other hand (on which...
Published on 6 Sep 2006 by H. Greensmith

versus
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A humourous moving adventure, embellished with time
I found this book entertaining and interesting yet I could not help wondering how much of it WAS written by the 22 year old Ernesto and how much of it was written by the older "Che" in Cuba. I felt that too much was added in hindsight for the book to truly work. It felt like I was being presented with an "On The Road" copy mixed with why a young...
Published on 8 Dec 1998


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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "El Che", South America and adventure..., 6 Sep 2006
By 
H. Greensmith "MadHannie" (London, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Motorcycle Diaries (Paperback)
I thought the 2004 film "Diarios de Motocicleta" was beautiful, with enthralling performances from Gael Garcia Bernal and sumptuous South American scenery. However the film has been accused of glorifying "El Che" and neglecting to feature the darker elements to his soul, rendering Guevara a squeaky-clean paragon of charity.

The book, on the other hand (on which the film was based) seems to convey many facets of Guevara's character, from a genuine care for the welfare of the peasants he encounters, to a cheeky "laddishness" including a "bad case of the runs" which the young Guevara directs onto his host's sun dried peaches! Finally we witness the hardening of Guevara's character into a rather bloodthirsty revolutionary intent on seeking justice for the downtrodden of South America.

Although the book is not short of adventure, to read this book merely as a travel journal would diminish some of its most poignant features. Through the impact of each experience we can chart the shaping of Ernesto Guevara into the figure he became. The book also offers a mystical perspective on some of South America's secrets including its silent mountains and lakes and the vibrancy of the people, unfortunately often combined with desperate poverty.

Unforgettable.
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56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The man he once was, 17 Aug 2002
By 
Colin Mulligan (East Yorkshire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Motorcycle Diaries (Paperback)
In the brief preamble to his 'The Motorcycle Diaries', Che Guevara sets us straight by telling us to read the work as a record of a journey undertaken by the man he "once was". This statement is, in fact, a direct reference to the author's method of working, which was to make extensive notes whilst travelling and then to transcribe and polish the narrative up to a year later. Forewarned is forearmed, however, and 'The Motorcycle Diaries' is possibly not a book for aficionados of the iconoclastic Che, the one that has adorned countless posters and T-shirts since his untimely death trying to spark off a new Vietnam in Bolivia in 1967.
In 'The Motorcycle Diaries' we can still find Che the adventurer and , moreover, there is clear evidence of a heart sensitive to the plight of the poor guasos (Chilean peasants) and other indigenous South American Indians encountered along the way. There are also signs that Che was beginning to awaken politically. (See, for example, his references to the material and cultural differences between the Chilean copper mine foremen - "blond and efficient, insolent administrators. ..the Yankee masters" - and the poor native miners . ) However, it is a far lighter , younger soul that we get in this work, one not yet fully locked-into revolutionary idealism.
'The Motorcycle Diaries' is actually a blow by blow account of the journey Che and Alberto Granado undertook across five Latin America countries between 1951-52. The journey occurred during an extended sabbatical from Che's medical studies at the University of Buenos Aires. (He did, in fact, manage to complete the six year course to become a doctor of medicine at this institution in just three years).
The preferred mode of travel for Che and Alberto's adventure was a Norton 500cc motorcycle, nicknamed La Poderosa II ( literally, the Powerful One II). This is, of course, where the title of the book comes from. Actually, though, La Poderosa II breaks down very early into the journey. A fact that, everything considered, proves to be something of a mixed blessing since, following this, the pair have to make their way by doing odd jobs and hitching rides with strangers and generally having a far richer experience.
In parts 'The Motorcycle Diaries' reads bawdy, irreverent and even laddish. In Chile, for example, Che manages to get roaring drunk (several times) and make an ill received pass at a mechanic's "randy" wife. Also, in the same country, Che wakes in the middle of the night and, mistaking his hosts' beloved pet Alsation for a vicious Chilean Puma, shoots the poor creature dead. Additionally, Che and Alberto win many friends and fans among the indigenous Indians by showing off their footballing prowess on the pampas. Che's favourite position, by the way, was to keep goal.
The book does contain, though, some extremely fluent and interesting passages, such as, for example, the one that describes a visit by train from Cuzco to Machu Picchu. This particular essay was initially published in Panama in December 1953. On the way to Machu Picchu Che notes, with a medical student's concern, how the native Indian women show little deference for personal hygiene, wiping themselves on their skirts after defecating. Upon arrival he ruminates about the discovery of Machu Picchu by the American archaeologist Hiram Bingham and, furthermore, sees the ancient Inca ruins as a place of "pure expression'", a monument to a once great people of the Americas. The fallen walls are, he says, full of 'evocative treasures' beyond the sensitivity and understanding of the Imperialist Yankee tourist.
Although, to reiterate, 'The Motorcycle Diaries' is possibly not, in my opinion, a book for those looking directly for the revolutionary hero of the Sierra Maestra (the battle hardened, politically mature and moralistic centred Che that marched with Castro triumphant through Havana in 1959 does, in fact, seem a million miles away at times from the still evolving soul revealed in this journal), I would still thoroughly recommend the book to a wide audience. 'The Motorcycle Diaries' is sometimes funny, sometimes coarse, yet often surprisingly insightful and lyrical. Read it as the ribald travel exploits of two young amigos into the heartlands of Latin America during the early 1950s, or read it for its moments of aesthetic fluency. On the back of this work, Che Guevara could always, I believe, have found a job as a travel writer of some note if other more cruel and glorious destinies had not called.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling story, 3 Nov 2005
By 
Mr. K. Papas "kleopapas" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Motorcycle Diaries (Paperback)
In this book of Che Guevara's diaries one discovers what compelled this upper-middle class student of medicine to become possibly the most iconic of guerillas and champion of the repressed. He leaves Buenos Aires a naive student with his best friend to tour South America on a battered old motorcycle. The poverty, deprivation and exploitation that they saw along their travels changed Guevara forever and ultimately led to his death in a Bolivian jungle years later. A fascinating account for those wishing to scratch beneath the surface of the cheesy Che T-Shirts and posters.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The real 'Che', 11 Aug 2009
This review is from: The Motorcycle Diaries (Paperback)
A very important book for people who want to know about the real 'Che', not the one who is idolised on T-shirts.

Even if he wasn't famous, this would still be enjoyable... He was a complex character, who cared deeply about the poor of the world, but in the book he didn't mind committing petty thievery, and wasn't embarrasse about some attempts he made with married women. He was very youthful, full of life, very vivacious. It's a short book and a great one.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A humourous moving adventure, embellished with time, 8 Dec 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Motorcycle Diaries (Paperback)
I found this book entertaining and interesting yet I could not help wondering how much of it WAS written by the 22 year old Ernesto and how much of it was written by the older "Che" in Cuba. I felt that too much was added in hindsight for the book to truly work. It felt like I was being presented with an "On The Road" copy mixed with why a young medical student became a great revolutionary.... and don't get me wrong, I admire Che enormously. I feel the book should not be taken as a great work of literature or philosophy. The only importance this book holds is that it was written by a great man whose memory will live on a lot longer than the memory of "The Motorcycle Diaries". Not everything a great person does is great, sometimes the things they do can be, in this case, just ok.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but dry, 28 May 2009
By 
A. Stevenson (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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I found this quite interesting to read from a content point of view and how the things he saw and experienced shaped him, but in terms of writing style it was quite dry and hard going.

I read the book before I saw the film, and this is one of the few occasions where I enjoyed the film more. As someone who has travelled around South America, I thought it captured the essence of the continent much better.

Definately woth reading if you're interested in Che though.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Motorcycle diaries, 29 Aug 2007
By 
Spider Monkey (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Motorcycle Diaries (Paperback)
This is the short, eloquent account of Che's travels around South America. He is very descriptive and evocative and this book is not only a great travelogue, but it is also a great insight into what made Che become the revolutionary he did. It looks at the exploits and relationships he experienced on the road, looking day to day for the next meal, lift or bed. A good insight into this iconic figure and a damn good read to boot.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable book to read, 7 Jan 2005
This review is from: The Motorcycle Diaries (Paperback)
I found this to be an enjoyable book to read, it is well written with some rather poetic sections. For the most part this is a book about two adventurers setting out to explore their native continent and living as the indigenous people do, a feat I dare say we have all though about at one state or another. Reading through it you can see some of the sights that must have angered and spared him on.
There are some hilarious tales that happen to the two and some nice descriptive parts about the wonderful scenery of S.America and of the ancient civilisations that once inhabited it.
No tales of revolution, but this is not a book about that; this is a book of adventure and the foundation of Ernesto.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book gets into the mind and personality of young Che., 2 Sep 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Motorcycle Diaries (Paperback)
The Motorcycle Diaries makes us see the early Ernresto Guevara. His ambition to seek new adventures while trying to survive under poverty makes this book fascinating to read. His rebellious spirit and willingness to seek justice shows up in this book, which gives hints about his legendary future.
For more information about Che Guevara read, "Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life" by Jon Lee Anderson.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 28 Aug 2003
This review is from: The Motorcycle Diaries (Paperback)
Wonderful!! This epic tale of two friends and there gurney across southern America is truly an inspiration. I have read many of Che’s books and find his writing captivating, once you pick this book up you are found cursing yourself for reading so quickly, you immediately want to turn to the first page and begin the trip again.
I won’t give away the exciting account of Che finding his way, often in a rather uncomfortable and bumbling way from one place to the next living off the generosity of those who like the two travellers had little to offer but uncompromising generosity. When you have read and re-read this book I recommend any of Guevara’s works, all are written in his captivating and sometimes philosophical approach to the world.
A true and honest literary masterpiece!!!!
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The Motorcycle Diaries
The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto Guevara (Paperback - 15 Jan 1996)
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