Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life

Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life

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By (author) Jon Lee Anderson

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He became a myth in his own lifetime and an international martyr-figure upon his death; he was a revolutionary fighter, a military strategist, a social philosopher, an economist, a medical doctor, and a friend and confidant of Fidel Castro. Che Guevara's dream was an epic one - to unite Latin America and the rest of the developing world through armed revolution, and to end once and for all the poverty, injustice and petty nationalisms that had bled it for centuries. In the end, Che failed in his quest but he is recognized as that one-in-a-million personality who just might have pulled it off. "Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life" shuttles between the revolutionary capitals of Havana and Algiers to the battlegrounds of Bolivia and the Congo; from the halls of power in Moscow and Washington to the exile havens of Miami, Mexico and Guatemala, in a gripping tale of revolution, international intrigue and covert operations. It has an epic sweep as it evokes an era of tumultuous change, describing major events like the Bay of Pigs invasion, the October Missile crisis and Kennedy's assassination. Among its cast of characters are scores of historic personalities including Castro, Kennedy, Kruschev, Mao Tse-tung, Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, to name but a few. Jon Lee Anderson has been given unprecedented access to the Cuban Government's archives and has had total co-operation from Che's widow, Aleida March, who has never previously spoken for publication about her late husband. He has obtained hitherto unpublished documents, including several of Che's personal diaries and, in the course of his research, broke open a twenty-eight-year-old mystery - the whereabouts of Che's body in Bolivia. There is no doubt that this monumental work will stand as the definitive portrait of one of the twentieth century's most fascinating, yet largely unexplored, historical figures.

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Author information

Jon Lee Anderson is an American journalist and writer.

Review quote

"Masterly and absorbing" -- Frank McLynn The Sunday Times "Brilliantly evoked... The portrait is now as complete as it will ever be" -- Alberto Manguel The Times Literary Supplement "Absorbing and convincing... an indispensable work of contemporary history" Guardian

Editorial reviews

A sweeping biography of the Latino revolutionary and pop-culture hero. Anderson (Guerrillas, 1992), a journalist with a longtime interest in Latin American affairs, steers clear of ideology, arguing that the Argentinian-born Guevara was both a brilliant tactician and fighter (a conclusion sure to please his admirers) and the truest representative of the old international communist agitator the State Department warned us about (a conclusion equally sure to please Guevara's detractors). Anderson writes at some length about Che's early bohemian days, spent ranging up and down the Americas on a motorcycle, looking for kicks. He goes on to persuasively establish that Guevara's connection with Fidel Castro came much earlier than the standard sources suggest. He also proves beyond doubt that Guevara was captured and executed by Bolivian counterinsurgency rangers and not killed, as the official story had it, in a firefight, automatic weapon in hand. Anderson traces the strange influence of the politics of the Argentine dictator Juan Perno on Guevara, analyzes the utterly disastrous mid-1960s Cuban intervention in the Congo, and considers Castro and Guevara's sometimes tense relationship. He shows that Castro did not include Guevara in the publicly visible Cuban revolutionary leadership because Castro feared that featuring an avowed Marxist would alienate his non-communist allies. (For their pan, he writes, the Soviets could never be sure whether Guevara was not truly a Maoist and held him in deep suspicion.) Drawing on a vast range of interviews and secondary sources, including little-known Latin American documents and material from the archives of the KGB, Anderson paints a portrait of Guevara as both hero and fanatic. The author's fondness for showering the reader with every detail he has uncovered makes this sprawling book sometimes tough slogging, but students of Che's life and deeds need look no farther than Anderson's volume. (Kirkus Reviews)