An important document that evokes the heat in a little-known theater of the Cold War.




A firsthand account of an ill-fated Marxist revolution in the Congo, with an introduction by historian Richard Gott and an afterword by Aleida Guevara March, daughter of Guevara.

Those who romanticize the life of Guevara (d. 1967) will do well to read these unabridged journals. “This is the history of a failure,” he writes of his months of frustration in the jungles of central Africa. In 1965, Guevara brought a hundred or so Cuban guerillas to the Congo with the intent of training the forces of the then-26-year-old Laurent Kabila, who ruled the country recently (until his assassination earlier this year). His mission foundered because of Kabila’s lack of organization. Page after page describes the ineptness of the antigovernment forces, well armed but untrained in the use of their weapons. In describing the revolutionaries’ inexperience, Guevara employs images that recall Joseph Conrad, as when he sees a group of Rwandans manning an artillery piece on a hillside, completely exposed to enemy fire and not in a position to hit any target. In the few battles Cuban forces join, most of their African comrades run at the sound of the first shot or fire their rifles into the air with their eyes closed. In their one success, when the Cubans and Africans manage to ambush an enemy supply column, the victory is bittersweet. The supply trucks carry alcohol; the soldiers become drunk, argue among themselves, and wind up shooting a peasant they believe is a spy. Guevara is constantly outlining how the Africans might improve their campaign. The journals are a literal guidebook for any revolutionary seeking to mount a military campaign against a government in mountainous terrain. How to dig trenches, organize fighting groups, and distribute munitions and medical supplies, all are given a soldier’s attention. Despite the problems, however, Guevara maintains an optimism that mitigates his otherwise dreary tale.

An important document that evokes the heat in a little-known theater of the Cold War.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8021-3834-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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