CIA slays Che.
Within a rambling framework, memoirist (Warrior Soul, 2004) and debut novelist Pfarrer creates two antiphonal narratives that intersect toward the end. We follow Che Guevara through the jungles of Bolivia from spring to autumn of 1967 as he and his band of Cuban and Bolivian revolutionaries attempt to persuade farmers and peasants of the justness of their cause. But it’s hard to build up revolutionary fervor, they discover, when you’ve been living the same life for a thousand years and cannot imagine an alternative. Flashbacks fill in gaps in our knowledge about Che’s activities. His ragtag band is episodically—and sometimes desultorily—chased by members of the inept Bolivian army. Meanwhile, CIA operatives Paul Hoyle and Neil Smith try to track down Che; their mission is to eliminate the rebels with the help of the Green Berets. Almost all sides are unfathomably corrupt: Fidel Castro cuts off Che, the Bolivian communists sell him out, the KGB willingly exploits its own agents and the CIA sells arms to a Bolivian colonel who in turn sells them to the rebels. Amid these trials, Hoyle tries to maintain a Hemingway-esque stoicism and grace under pressure. Although they meet only briefly, he and Che have much in common, most notably a commitment to ideals in a world largely defined by their absence. Hoyle’s affair with Maria, mistress of the effete Bolivian Minister Alameda, allows the CIA agent to become even more noble and self-sacrificing—it also gives him the opportunity to beat the crap out of Alameda in an embarrassingly satisfying way.
For aficionados of ’60s revolutionary politics.