Otto Paperback – 2 Feb 2006
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Sweeps us across the world and then lands back in Latin America, where Otto's insights are enlightening. In the end, Otto's honesty and the power of his and St Aubin's storytelling may leave us persuaded that the legacy of the Spanish conquest "are five elements forever present in Latin American society: greed, lust, cruelty, truth and poetry. Dazzling'' (GUARDIAN)
'A beautifully written, utterly convincing novel (New Statesman)
* An epic love affair with life and death based on a true story of a revolutionary, from the bestselling author of THE HACIENDASee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The book takes us back to the 1960s when every idealistic student had a poster of Che Guevara up on their wall, and into the heart of South America where poverty, squalor and corruption breed extremist political factions. This is not just about one particular revolutionary, fascinating and incredible though his story is - it is about an entire generation of young people following the Communist banner in the post-war world. In the universities of Paris, Prague, London and Bologna they were all networking, planning, hoping and dreaming. Cuba was held up as a communist paradise and the USA was despised. When they despaired of ever getting a fair election in Venezuela, Otto and his friends gave up their well-paid academic jobs and planned an armed revolution. Training for this involved spending many months in military camps in Cuba, being dropped into the sea nightly in total darkness to practice "landing" - though unfortunately Otto couldn't swim.
There is a huge amount to be learned from this vicarious autobiography of a disillusioned revolutionary who spent much of his life on the run from the CIA and occasionally resorted to bank robbery, but only in a good cause (he never spent the money on himself).
I am being a bit mean in only giving it four stars, but that's because there is rather a lot of coarse language, which I suppose is appropriate because it's written from the point of view of a bloke who didn't care for bourgeois refinements. However, the book is a remarkable one and a marvellous achievement.
I don't know why the publisher changed the title and it does seem likely to confuse readers. OTTO = Swallowing Stones.
notoriety. Otto describes his attraction to Marxism and his radicalism in his early years. He travels to Paris and their meets his wife, and aristocratic Iranian. He tells her of his passionate and stormy marriage and his years in the revolutionary army, trying to overthrow the Right Wing Military government in Venezuela. He has met Fidel Castro and Che Guevara and illuminates both. This compelling and driven biography is intelligent, probing and revealing. The best thing for me was how Otto describes how his passion for the Communist Party grew and how entrenched in it he became. It took the bureaucratic interrogation of the Chinese in the late 1960s to wash away completely his love for Communism. Lisa writes so articulately about Otto's commitment to a cause - and how this could not be sustained due to the lack of support and backing of other communists. Certainly both Chairman Mao and Fidel Castro were of the 'Its My Way or the Highway' school of politics. The theory and the practice - and the real world are laid bare, by Otto. Certainly a book all communists should read if they want to understand why communism didn't work out.