How did a wealthy, asthmatic boy from Argentina grow up to become a famous Communist revolutionary?
Ernesto “Che” Guevara Lynch Jr. was born in Rosario, Argentina, on June 14, 1928, the son of well-to-do parents who were members of Argentina’s upper classes. The Guevara home was filled with books, and Ernesto grew up reading philosophy, poetry, politics and history. Though a good student, he tired of school and set off on travels that opened his eyes to the grinding poverty throughout South America and to the corrupting influences of the United States–based Anaconda Copper Mining Company, the United Fruit Company, the CIA and the American government itself. U.S.-backed bombing raids in Guatemala in 1954 further radicalized Guevara, and he soon became involved in the Cuban revolution. Fidel Castro made Guevara an honorary Cuban citizen and put him in charge of the Cuban economy and the training of the armed forces. In 1962, Guevara invited the Soviets to build military bases in Cuba, precipitating the Cuban missile crisis. Through its focus on one major figure, Kallen’s fascinating work explores a large segment of 20th-century history. Maps, photographs and sidebars are excellent, though the defining of key terms in the middle of sentences is distracting and, moreover, unnecessary since a glossary is provided.
A fine introduction to Latin American history and the ideas of capitalism, socialism and communism. (timeline, who’s who, source notes, bibliography, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 11-18)