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Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life (1997)

de Jon Lee Anderson

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Biography & Autobiography. Nonfiction. HTML:

This acclaimed national bestseller is the definitive work on Che Guevara, the dashing rebel whose epic dream was to end poverty and injustice in Latin America and the developing world through armed revolution. Anderson traces Che's extraordinary life from his comfortable Argentine upbringing to the battlefields of the Cuban revolution, from the halls of power in Castro's government to his failed campaign in the Congo and his assassination in the Bolivian jungle. With unprecedented access to personal archives, government documents, and rare interviews, Anderson reveals many details of Che's life that have long been cloaked in secrecy and intrigue. Meticulously researched and full of exclusive information, Che Guevara illuminates as never before this mythic figure who embodied the high-water mark of revolutionary Communism as a force in history.

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Es mostren 1-5 de 22 (següent | mostra-les totes)
absolutely amazing to read about the details of his life, the author did an amazing job of really getting the detailed, personal picture of che's life and put it into a digestible way. ( )
  ncharlt1 | Oct 11, 2020 |
This is quite an extensive biography of Che Guevara. On my kindle, it amounts to over 17000 sentences, rivaling the thickest works of George RR Martin. Of course, one doesn't have to read all the notes and footnotes (which the above count includes), but then one would be missing out on interesting tidbits, such as the story of how the iconic image of Che now adoring T-shirts and other crap came to be.

The sheer amount of work that must have gone into writing this biography is mind boggling. Though it encompasses the entirety of Che's life (thankfully it doesn't dwell too much on his early childhood), this is not just the story of Che, it is at the very least a fairly comprehensive history of the Cuban revolution and a look into geopolitical situation of the world (and especially Latin America) in the middle of the twentieth century.

The author was given unprecedented access to unpublished documents about Che's life by Che's widow, Aleida March, so a few things previously unknown about El Commandante come to light. The author tries to thread a fine line between presenting Che's life in a fair, impartial manner and being too impersonal and dry for reader's taste, a task at which he sometimes fails on the latter part. For example, Che's death is presented in a very matter-of-fact way, basically "then he was taken out and shot". On the plus side, this updated edition contains information on the 1990s search for his remains and their transfer to Cuba where they now rest in the mausoleum in Santa Clara.

In the end, what rises before the reader's eyes, is an image of a courageous man who was willing to live and die by and for his principles and who expected others to the same. A man, who was a strict disciplinarian, but to no one more than himself. A revolutionary who found himself more at ease fighting a guerilla war in the jungles of Latin America and Africa than behind a desk. A man who put everything on the line to bring about what he thought a better future for the peoples of Latin America and who was in the end murdered in the attempt. Definitely a rare if not a unique breed of a political and military leader in the history of mankind. ( )
1 vota matija2019 | Jan 8, 2019 |
Ernesto "Che" Guevara's legacy was to become more symbol than man, his image made a statement. This biography sheds all of these trappings to examine the man himself, as Jon Lee Anderson tells a comprehensive story from birth to death without any gaps. Che was firstborn of four children to an upper-class Argentine family, though it sometimes struggled at managing money. A bad case of asthma began in childhood that plagued him his entire life. He was proudly defiant of social conventions, a voracious reader with early leftist sympathies, but he never chose a firm side as a youth: no protests, no serious organizational affiliations. Never a noteworthy student in terms of grades but very intelligent, at first he pursued engineering and then switched to medicine. A flare for adventure and risky behaviours landed him in a few close calls which could have made this a very short biography.

Two questions predominated that I wanted answers to. The first was, why did he choose a revolutionary life? Satisfying a thirst for travel, Che came to know the lives of lower classes not just across Argentina but throughout Latin America, cementing his socialist beliefs which eventually turned to devoted Marxism. From there it was a short step to sympathizing with Guatamala's fallen socialist regime and Cuban revolutionary aims. My second question was, why did he abandon his comfortable position in Cuba to take up causes elsewhere? Che never viewed his role at Fidel's side as an end in itself but only the first step of his own journey: a worldwide overthrow of the capitalist yoke. He was devoted to this single extreme cause with unwavering fierceness. Cuba was merely the beginning of something grander, the "freeing" of all Latin America and beyond.

The sheer amount of research and wonderfully objective writing make this biography a model to follow. There is consistent balance between personal and public views into his life, including brief backgrounds of other key players and the drawing of interesting connections. The speed of time's passage adjusted depending on how much of interest there was to share, and notification was helpfully provided when someone entered Che's life who would be of greater significance later. I only missed more insight into how the Cuban revolution was victorious against superior numbers, and a more precise study of evolution in the relationship between Che and Fidel after Fidel was in power.

Che Guevara's image is sometimes sanitized as a generic symbol for defying the status quo. His rough Marxist-agenda edges are smoothed away, his call for hatred as a tool to win bloody war against capitalist imperialism conveniently disregarded, his vow forgotten that he would have fired the Cuban missiles had they been in his power. But his story - the real story of the man, not the symbol - is a human story. A reminder that greatness begins with adopting a corresponding risk tolerance; that close-minded devotion to a cause requires sacrifice, including blinding oneself to the world's complexities beyond any simplified black-and-white view. Ultimately it demonstrates the hollowness of violence as means to an end. His image to this day is hoisted by movements embracing armed uprising as their solution, a determination to lash out and destroy as a means to create. So far as that goes, it has earned its place. ( )
  Cecrow | Apr 23, 2018 |
Over the years as Che Guevara was commodified, he became the most familiar figure and yet a misunderstood and unkown personality. He became a brand that was used to sell everything from t-shirts and mugs to canned beer. In all this commodification, Che’s life and what he stood for got lost. Who was this extraordinary man who gave up his privilege and everything he cherished and dedicated his life to an idea and died for it? This is a great biography that gives him a historical context and brings him to life.

Che is one of the most important and charismatic figures of the human struggle against injustice and oppression. This biography is meticulously detailed and comprehensive. John lee Anderson takes us from the social conditions of his childhood, his family whose independent spirit will be a great influence on him, his medical studies, to his famous motorcycle journeys and his later journeys across the Americas that awakened his political and social consciousness as he became a dedicated Marxist. The Cuban revolution after which he became the principal architect of its economic direction, and his return to Guerrilla warfare after he decided that the Cuban revolution was on the right path that eventually led to his death in Bolivia. The death that would give him such an enduring romantic legacy. The final section of this book has many poignant moments.

Che was selfless, strong-willed, honest, a lover of learning who constantly read books, and was totally dedicated to the cause of struggle against imperialism. While Fidel and Che shared the same goals and ideals, Fidel was a wily politician who presented a different face to the public from his private self and Che was honest to a fault who always spoke his mind. The author brings out both the passionate romantic and the cold rationale side of him.

As a guerilla he was a man embroiled in a violent struggle and was no saint. He was a great tactician and a charismatic leader who attracted undying loyalty from many. He led an ascetic life and expected everyone to live upto his standards. He was a strict disciplinarian. He was also very idealistic and utopian which shows in the unbridled faith and optimism that he showed even when people around him were failing him.
As an administrator he was the driving force behind Cuba’s land reforms and its successful health and literacy programs. As a Marxist, he wanted to diversify and industrialise the Cuban economy. In this he was critical of the soviet model and was more of a Maoist.

He was a dedicated internationalist and he held that socialism could only be successful with the creation of the "New Man". He believed that a change in consciousness should be simultaneous with the new material foundations. I think his idea of the "New socialist man" is his most important contribution to Marxist theory. He argued that capitalism produces incomplete alienated individuals that only a true socialist society enables a man to become a complete individual.

An excellent and inspirational biography of a truly selfless revolutionary. He dedicated his life to what he believed in and he ultimately died for it.

( )
  kasyapa | Oct 9, 2017 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Anderson, Jon LeeAutorautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Burri, RenéCover photographerautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Gockel, GabrieleTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Krieger, ChristianeTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Schmidt, JorgeDissenyador de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Schuhmacher, SonjaTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Steckhan, BarbaraTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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for Erica; and in memory of my mother, Barbara Joy Anderson, 1928-1994
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The revelation slipped out almost casually over a long morning's conversation over coffee in November 1995.
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"I don't even know in which land I will leave my bones."
Searching, crossing solutions off the list of possibilities as he went - reformism, democracy, elections - he had found Marx, then Guatemala, then Cuba, and in that baptism of fire, his discoveries of "empirical medicine" had led to "scientific truth." That truth, and the cure to man's ills, was Marxism-Leninism, and guerrilla warfare was the means to achieve it .... In essence, Che was arguing that his formula for attaining socialism through armed struggle amounted to a scientific discovery, and through this discovery would come an end to injustice and the creation of a new form of man.
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Biography & Autobiography. Nonfiction. HTML:

This acclaimed national bestseller is the definitive work on Che Guevara, the dashing rebel whose epic dream was to end poverty and injustice in Latin America and the developing world through armed revolution. Anderson traces Che's extraordinary life from his comfortable Argentine upbringing to the battlefields of the Cuban revolution, from the halls of power in Castro's government to his failed campaign in the Congo and his assassination in the Bolivian jungle. With unprecedented access to personal archives, government documents, and rare interviews, Anderson reveals many details of Che's life that have long been cloaked in secrecy and intrigue. Meticulously researched and full of exclusive information, Che Guevara illuminates as never before this mythic figure who embodied the high-water mark of revolutionary Communism as a force in history.

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