GUEVARA, ALSO KNOWN AS CHE by Paco Ignacio Taibo

GUEVARA, ALSO KNOWN AS CHE

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Mexican novelist Taibo (Leonard's Bicycle, 1995, etc.) offers his political adventure-story take on Latin America's revered revolutionary, with heavy use of excerpts from Guevara's diaries and interviews with other sources. In the third biography of Guevara this year, Taibo spends little time investigating the revolutionary's personal life, which was detailed by Jon Lee Anderson (p. 343), and is similarly brief with his subject's initial political development and his changing views, which was Jorge Casta§eda's focus (p. 1174). While acknowledging that he was a prolific reader of political tracts, revolutionary poetry, and a wide array of fiction, Taibo notes that when it came to the politics of revolution, ``as far as Cuba was concerned, Che was no more than a country intellectual who had never set foot in a city.'' It is Che the rebel fighter who became an international icon, and it is this aspect of his life that Taibo stresses--one third of the biography is dedicated to his successful year as a soldier and commander in Cuba. While his troops rested between battles, the tireless Che took charge of rebel training camps, gave basic reading lessons, tended to the wounded, and launched the guerrillas' own newspaper and radio station. Once, as Batista's forces were known to be preparing an offensive, Guevara took time out to prepare a splint for a wounded bird. In addition to his individual military victories, Taibo notes that the revolution's success was also due to Guevara's ability to step up the pace of assaults in late 1958 to take advantage of the crumbling dictatorship. After five frustrating years filling various roles in the new Cuban government, Guevara departed in semi-exile to do what he did best--but his expeditions in the Congo and Bolivia ended in failure and eventually in his execution. A sentimental tale of revolutionary exploits, in which Che's own voice is clearly heard.

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 1997
ISBN: 0-312-15539-5
Page count: 671pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1997




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