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The Bolivian Diary: The Authorised Edition Paperback – 5 Jan 2009
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Looking back on the life of his revolutionary comrade Che Guevara in his introduction to the Bolivian Diary, Fidel Castro claims that "rarely, if ever, in history has one man's image, name and example spread so rapidly and so completely". Ernesto Guevara de la Sema is the ultimate revolutionary, an icon who spawned a million T-shirts, and whose death in 1967 whilst fermenting revolution in Bolivia enshrined him as a martyr of the radical Left. In his short life Che Guevara led military revolutions in Mexico, the Congo and, most famously, Cuba, before heading to Bolivia in 1966 to establish a guerrilla movement in an attempt to overthrow the Bolivian military dictatorship.
His Bolivian Diary, first published in Cuba in 1968, is the remarkable and ultimately tragic first-hand account of Che's formation of a tiny band of revolutionaries, his attempt to proselytise the local peasants, his skirmishes with the Bolivian army, and his final shootout and cold-blooded execution at the hands of the military in October 1967. Stripped of the romantic idealism usually associated with Che, the diary is a sobering account of the drudgery, fear and monotony of guerrilla warfare. Much of the diary is taken up with the preoccupations of basic survival in the primitive conditions of the Bolivian mountains, whilst playing a tense and often ineffective game of hit and run with the Bolivian army. There are some wonderful moments, such as Che breaking off from military preparations to remember that, "I must write some letters to Sartre and Bertrand Russell..." or commandeering a jeep and running it on the urine of his guerrillas. Ultimately this is a tough, uncompromising portrait of a ruthlessly disciplined and single-minded man, relishing a conflict which "gives us the opportunity to turn ourselves into revolutionaries, the highest state of the human species". --Jerry Brotton --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Praise for the films, ‘Che Part 1’ and ‘Che Part 2’:
‘Brilliant.’ The Times
‘A grand Hollywood war movie. Del Toro gives a stunning performance as Che Guevara. ****’ Empire
‘Soderbergh’s best film. A masterpiece. ****’ Total Film
'”Che” is brilliant…incandescent – a piece of full-on, you-are-there realism…[A] perfect dream movie, which is also politically vibrant and searing.' Jeffrey Wells, Hollywood Elsewhere
'”Che” is a piece of entertainment that delivers excitement, pathos and pure film-making passion…The end result is masterful – expressive, innovative, striking, exciting.’ www.cinematical.com
Praise for ‘The Bolivian Diary’:
'Guevara was a figure of epic proportions. These diaries, stark and moving, will be his most enduring monument.’ Observer
'Vivid and compelling.' Economist
Praise for ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’:
‘It’s true; Marxists just wanna have fun.’ Guardian
‘What distinguishes these diaries is that they reveal a human side to El Che which historians have successfully managed to suppress…one senses El Che’s belief that determination and conviction can be enough to change one's self and others…a joy to read from start to finish.’ Financial Times
‘Political incorrectness galore…this book should do much to humanise the image of a man who found his apotheosis as a late Sixties cultural icon. It is also, incidentally, a remarkably good travel book about South America.’ ScotsmanSee all Product description
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I've been lucky enough to visit the Sierra Maestra and it was hard enough, even for a well-nourished westerner, to trek the path used by the revolutionaries, so quite how this asthmatic and weakly young man managed to tread this path countless times, let alone march hundreds of miles and conduct a war against an enemy hugely superior in numbers, is mind-boggling.
The success of the Cuban revolution is one of the great stories of the twentieth century, and in Che Guevara, it has the narrator it fully deserves.
We all know the ending Che was shot by the CIA backed Bolivian military - it sounds sinister, but weren't all South American military backed by the CIA in the Sixties. They record Che's last campaign, fought in the Bolivian cloud forests they tell a story of the mundanity of a guerilla fighter's life. They could be the diaries of a lieutenant, in any one of several modern wars, leading a company of men in enemy territory with only their wits to survive. There is plenty of mud, near misses, misfortune and the leader's concerns about how to hold together a group of unsupported, under-fed and increasingly depleted fighters, whilst surrounded by hostile forces and local people who don't understand or are unsympathetic to their presence.
What sets the book apart is the insights it gives into the mind of Che, what made him tick, what drove him on. He emerges as a fighter with a cause, a man who knew what he believed in, was willing to kill for it and ultimately die for it. For me Che comes across as neither hero, nor villain, just a man fighting for a cause, his folly was few others in Bolivia shared it with him. Che was killed by the logistical failings of his guerilla campaign, combined with a lack of support from the people touched by it. Che is clear about these failings in the diaries and it's a measure of the man that despite them he continued to fight for what he believed.
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