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The Motorcycle Diaries: A Journey Around South America [Hardcover]

Che Guevara , Ann Wright
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 17 1995 Critical Studies in Latin American and Iberian Culture
In January 1952, two young men from Buenos Aires set out to explore South America on an ancient Norton motorbike. The journey lasted six months and took them thousands of miles, all the way from Argentina to Venezuela. En route, there was disasters and discoveries, high drama, low comedy, fights, parties and a lot of serious drinking. They met an extraordinary range of people: native indians and copper miners, lepers, police, wanderers and tourists. They became stowaways, firemen and football coaches, and joined in a strike. They sometimes fell in love, and frequently fell off the motorbike. Both of them kept diaries. One of them was a tall and good-looking medical student called Ernest Guevara de la Serna. Using the standard Argentinean nickname, others would sometimes refer to the two companions as Big Che and Little Che. In Ernesto‘s case, the nickname stuck. Within a decade the whole world would know Che Guevara. This is the story of that remarkable journey, eight years before the Cuban Revolution, in Che‘s own words, and illustrated with contemporary photographs. For Che, it was a formative experience, and amidst the humour and pathos of the tale, there are examples of his idealism and his solidarity with the poor and the oppressed. But it is far from being the diary of a militant, and sometimes very far from being “political correct,” which may be the reason that the manuscript has only been made available now, a quarter century after Che‘s death in the Bolivian jungle. Instead, it is a record kept by an exuberant, intelligent and observant 23-year-old, describing what might have been the adventure of a lifetime—had his lifetime not turned into a much greater adventure.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Argentine revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara became Fidel Castro's chief lieutenant in the Cuban revolution, Cuba's minister for industry and later a guerrilla in Bolivia, where he was captured and executed in 1967. This high-spirited travel diary of Guevara's eight-month motorcycle journey across Argentina, Chile, Peru, Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela as a 23-year-old medical student in 1951-52 mixes lyrical observation, youthful adventure and anti-imperialist political analysis. With a doctor friend as traveling companion, Guevara stows away on a cargo ship, explores Inca ruins, volunteers as a fireman, visits a leper colony and displays solidarity with miners and farm workers. Guevara's snide passing remarks targeting blacks, homosexuals and Jews reveal an unpleasant side of the countercultural icon. On balance, this candid journal, part self-discovery, part fieldwork, glimmers with portents of the future revolutionary.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

For every comic escapade of the carefree roustabout there is an equally eye-opening moment in the development of the future revolutionary leader. By the end of the journey, a politicized Guevara has emerged to predict his own legendary future. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars che as a human Dec 18 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
this is one of the best things i have ever read. it's che guevara as a human being, a young man, before he became a political figure and a romaticised icon. no, it's not a marxist book per se, it's not even very political. but it's not supposed to be 'das kapital' -- it's che's journals, his thoughts, feelings, observations on his journey through south america at 23 and the adventures, people, and day-to-day hardships he and his friend alberto faced. though it does show how his political views were developed, i don't even think that's the most important thing. the really great thing about this book is that it lets the reader into che's mind -- and heart -- not only as a revolutionary but as a human being. ten million stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars On the Road Aug. 14 2003
Format:Paperback
Che's Motorcycle Diaries is a non-politicized odyssey around South America, full of comical high jinks and adventure. The 23 year old, pre-revolutionary Che is a talented travel writer with an abundance of humor and an observant eye for the human condition. The Motorcycle Diaries reflects intimate insight of the young man who would one day become a legend.
Praise needs to go to Ann Wright, the translator, who maintained the integrity of the Diaries.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Easy Rider goes Marxist March 9 2004
Format:Paperback
It is a beautiful thing to see the political awakening of a young man. And it becomes even more notorious when we know that this man will be a true revolutionary years later.
'The Motorcycle Diaries' is the account of a journey made by Ernesto 'Che' Guevara and his friend Alberto Granado throughout South America in early 1950's. Beginning as a pair of youngsters' journey, this trip become more a self-discovering journey having as background the impoverished and exploited, but above all, not well known America.
As most young people, Che and Granado had late-adolescent angst and trying to find a relief they went in a journey in the heart of South America, trying to find what was beyond their middle-class homes. What they find out was much more than what they were expecting to: poor people, with almost no conditions of living, consumed by diseases and being exploited and ignored by the government and the system.
It is a joy to see Che transforming from almost a brat into a real man of value, fulfilled with social and political conscience, caring for the poor and sick people. At first, he and his friends are only two guys who want to be on the road and learn about the world. But little did they know how was this world they were about to learn about.
Nearly the end, Che is another completely different person. He, now, has social and political thoughts --almost Marxist ideas -- about the world we live in and how South America has been systematically exploited throughout the years.
Sometimes painfully funny, sometimes extremely sad 'The Motorcycle Diaries' is a pleasant read, written with heart and soul, by someone who was destined to be big, a person who was destined to change and touch the lives of thousands --as Che did indeed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars If you want to know the man before the revolution Jan. 10 2004
By Shannon
Format:Paperback
In October I went to Cuba and began to learn a tremendous amount about Ernesto "Che" Guevara. Just before reading this book I read two other by him, Reminiscences of a Cuban Revolution and The Che Guevara Reader. If you want to know the man before the revolution, this is the book to read. It is a very interesting book. It is details his trip from his home in Argentina around much of South America. It reads at times like a travel guide which is what I suppose people would write in their travel diaries - what they see and what they thought. My favorite parts were when Guevara told what he thought of life and his experiences while on the road. He writes of the low opinion many people have of the indigenous populations, the exploitation of the land and the populace and the suffering he and his traveling companion endured. The are also very light moments of frivolity and fun. You truly get a sense of who he is and what he values. I was left wanting more, not for want of lack of description but because I wanted to know of who he was. He was a remarkable figure and an great writer. He paints quite a picture with his words.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Dreamer March 27 2003
Format:Paperback
Click on the image of a young Che sitting in a pensive , relaxed posture as though he is daydreaming. The picture will reveal an image in your mind quite different from the familiar bearded face many have come to associate with Che. The youth and gaze in his eyes is reflective of the book in it's first hand portrayal of a young idealist. The roots of Che's radicalism, that evolved into his believing in Communism and fighting alongside Castro, in Cuba, began with what he saw on a trip he took through South America. His observations on the differences in social classes within various towns shows his astute vision and concern that eventually turned into action.The epic journey Che undetook with his friend is full of anecdotes, frolicking, humor and some keen observations. Setting out from Buenos Aires, Argentina with his best friend, Alberto Granadas, the two start out on a motorcycle along the Atlantic eventually arriving in Caracas , Venezuela. Prior to their departure the first-hand account talks about cutting ties and the lives they left behind . The narrative account makes for a small book that can be read in one sitting or so. In the small time invested an interesting portrait and adventure awaits the reader. The intimacy of the book is life taking the trip side saddle within Che's mind. Incidently, this book is being transformed for the big screen. The production for a soon to be released movie, directed by Brazilian Walter Salles, with young, Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal("Y Tu MamaTambien" & 'Amores Perros") taking the lead role of Che. The book is entertaining and worthwhile for those interested in history and those that have shaped history.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars just amazing !
the first story about the future revolutionary ernesto guevara aka che.
that motorcycle diaries with his friend Alberto help you understand why he became che !
Published 19 months ago by Smithers
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring
An amazing book. It's time for people to stop looking at Che Guevara like a murderer and start looking at him as a soldier--he had an idea to benefit humanity, and unfortunately he... Read more
Published on Feb. 19 2012 by Dr.Drone
4.0 out of 5 stars Charming
journal of a road trip. Wonderful descriptions of the places and people visited in South America, as well as a little bit of history of goings on during that time. Read more
Published on April 22 2009 by JoJoreviews
5.0 out of 5 stars In his own words
Felix Rodriguez, an anti-Castro Cuban who was sent to assasinate Che, said he was a fascinating man he wanted to know better and felt sad at having to hunt him. Read more
Published on June 9 2004 by Michael Z. Williamson
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Excellent source of informtaion. A great story about Ernesto "Che" Guevara's travels through South America. Read more
Published on May 14 2003 by David Martin
4.0 out of 5 stars The personal Che without the Politics
If you are looking for a book dealing with Che's political views look elsewhere. However, if you want to read about Che in his formative years when his ideas were still taking... Read more
Published on Sept. 27 2002 by Blah
4.0 out of 5 stars A man who wants to represent the unrepresented!...
While reading "The Motorcycle Diaries" I kept waiting to come across the section that discusses the decisive moment when Che knew his fate or destiny was sealed as an "Emancipator... Read more
Published on Dec 20 2001 by Eddie Johnson Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Motorcycle Diaries
Some books have the ability to change lives. This is one of those books. Less than one month after reading it, I quit my job and left the U.S. Read more
Published on Oct. 2 2001 by Lynn Stover
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