Back on the Road: A Journey Through Latin America

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9780802139429: Back on the Road: A Journey Through Latin America

The fascinating travel diaries and photographs that make up Back on the Road are a vital complement to The Motorcycle Diaries, described by the London Times as "Das Kapital meets Easy Rider." These journals chronicle Che Guevara's second trip through Latin America as his youthful idealism was developing into the political fervor that made him a revolutionary icon. More than any of his peers in the Cuban revolution, Che had a continental sense of justice, first conceptualized during his travels as a young man. He saw the mountains and deserts of Bolivia, the Inca remains at Machu Picchu and Cuzco, the forests of Guatemala; he sailed up the Pacific coast from Ecuador to Panama and met his first wife in Honduras. He witnessed the CIA overthrow of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala and, in Mexico, he was introduced to an ambitious young man named Fidel Castro. Back on the Road provides a vital link between The Motorcycle Diaries and the Cuban Revolution, offering an indispensable portrait of the gestation of a revolutionary mind. "A wonderful glimpse into the maturing mind of a great man and a vital companion to the previous Che diaries." -- Michael McCaughan, Irish Times

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From Publishers Weekly:

This second volume of travel diaries by revolutionary icon Guevara (after Motorcycle Diaries) shows the 25-year-old rebel wandering around South America in the latter half of 1953, bopping from country to country before settling in Guatemala, where a leftist government led by Jacobo Arbenz had just come into power. In his diaries and letters home to his mother, Guevara writes of his ambivalence about the Communists (he doesn't want to join, because it would keep him from traveling to Europe) and how his desire to help out in Guatemala is impeded by near-crippling bouts of asthma. After the CIA overthrows the government in 1954, Guevara makes his way to Mexico, where, over the next two years, his radicalization becomes complete. The diary lacks explicit transitions, however, so the days blur into one another, and this, combined with Guevara's emphasis on more quotidian concerns like his health and lack of funds, makes it easy to overlook the key dramatic moments in his story. One of these, for example, is Guevara's first meeting with then-exiled Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro, in 1955, but all he has to say about that day is that Castro is "a young intelligent guy, very sure of himself and extraordinarily audacious; I think we hit it off well." Shortly afterward, Guevara launches into a long description of several Mayan ruins. With the wealth of comprehensive biographies available, it's hard to see the appeal of this slim volume beyond scholars and whatever hard-core fans of Che are still left in the 21st century. Photos not seen by PW. (Oct.)
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist:

In 1953 at the age of 25, having just graduated from medical school, Guevara set off on a journey through Latin America. This two-year diary (following The Motorcycle Diaries, 1995) of his sojourn records impressions and conversations with assorted companions: serious and frivolous friends; the woman he eventually marries; and exiles from various social movements, including two men who later become presidents of their respective countries. But he also records his personal development from an adventurous, though cynical, young man of the comfortable middle class to an ardent revolutionary. After six months in Guatemala, Guevara emerges as a man searching for a movement to match his political idealism. Guevara records his first meeting in Mexico with Fidel Castro, whom he describes as a "young, intelligent guy, very sure of himself and extraordinarily audacious." Guevara also chronicles labor uprisings and resistance against the influences and interests of the U.S and its intelligence operations. Guevara's passions for history, archaeology and science are also apparent in this absorbing glimpse of the development of a legendary revolutionary figure. Vanessa Bush
Copyright American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Ernesto "Che" Guevara, Patrick Camiller (Translator), Richard Gott (Introduction), Alberto Granado (Foreword)
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