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Compañero: The Life and Death of Che Guevara

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  699 ratings  ·  43 reviews
By the time he was killed in the jungles of Bolivia, where his body was displayed like a deposed Christ, Ernesto "Che" Guevara had become a synonym for revolution everywhere from Cuba to the barricades of Paris. This extraordinary biography peels aside the veil of the Guevara legend to reveal the charismatic, restless man behind it.

Drawing on archival materials from three
Paperback, 496 pages
Published October 27th 1998 by Vintage (first published January 1st 1387)
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Oct 10, 2010 Donna rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who believe in equality
Recommended to Donna by: myself
This book is highly detailed and interesting, and clearly the author has done mammoth amounts of research (count the footnotes!!)
Having read this, I feel that my respect for Che Guevara has grown because the portrait Castaneda has painted of him is a very human one - a man with both great strengths and great flaws. I feel that only now that I have read the story of his life can I truly appreciate his legacy, and I can see beyond the famous Korda photograph that has been capitalized so much.
Thoroughly researched and well-written, this book is a must for anyone interested in the motivations behind one of the most legendary figures of the 20th Century.

Che Guevara always wanted to be on the front lines of any conflict against Yankee imperialism. The spearheaded-ness that ousted the Batista regime in Cuba led him to Russia, China, the Congo and ultimately to Bolivia where he was killed in a botched rebellion. The Bolivian episode occupies the final chapters of the book in great detail
I've mentioned before my difficulty regarding biographies. By definition, a biography is going to introduce the bias and opinions of the author, and reflect any limitations in that author's research.

This book is phenomenal and chronicles Che's entire life from a priviledged birth to his world famous execution. It is well researched and it is evident that the author spent years researching and writing this book. He has personally spoken to some of the most central figures in Che's life and as suc
Wow. If you have ever questioned why you see countless kids wearing Che's face - read this book and it will make you still wonder what they are thinking.


Che's history is absolutely a powerful one, however, whether it was for the good, bad or indifferent - well I've formed my opinion at least - thanks to this book.

Ignore the footnotes as they are not helpful and only serve to confuse the reader. This is a great book though, well written and really does a good job in explaining the far r
The perfect introduction for a Che neophyte. Academic, yet accessible. What a man of passion, he sacrificed everything for his cause. I learned much about Guevara, but also about Castro, the Soviet-Sino conflict, guerilla warfare, and political intrigue in the 60s. I thought the final chapter was poignant and accurately placed Che Guevara as a man of vision for the radicals of the 60s.
Kirk Bower
Castaneda does a great job in research and writing. The book allows the reader to try to connect with the times and establish their own views. Politics aside; Che is an interesting and unusual character
Reading about Che is a lot more interesting than reading what he actually said. This is a good book. I don't always agree with Castaneda's analysis, but it is well researched and generally fair.
A good attempt at trying to present a very human portrait of Che using access to letters and people most other authors haven't had. But it's also a very sympathetic view.
Dean MacAllister
Very dry, but very informative. A story of someone who had a strong idealism, but was only good at starting revolutions, never seeing anything through to completion.
A serious in-depth view of Che's life events. The footnotes are endless. Great research done on the author's part.
A little heavy and a little difficult to read. Brilliantly researched all the same.
I found this book to be very interesting. I haven't yet read any of the numerous other books about Che Guevara, but I can't imagine this one wouldn't be a good place to start for someone interested in learning about the man. Che comes across as someone fervently dedicated to his cause, but perhaps flawed in his overly idealistic pursuit of that cause. Castaneda does a good job of suggesting Che has become bigger in death than life, in what he's come to symbolize and how he's been marketed.
Jamie Larmour-reid
A thorough and well-balanced account of the life, triumphs, failures and death of one of the 20th century's cultural icons.
Interesante y completa, por momentos soporífera, biografía de Ernesto Che Guevara, por el mexicano Jorge Castañeda. El libro tiene muchos datos al detalle, por lo que se me hizo pesado, especialmente al momento de repasar medidas económicas cuando el Che fue ministro de producción y presidente del Banco Central de Cuba. Tardé 5 años en leerlo, mezclado con otras lecturas. Si lo recomiendo.
While I do not agree with the deification of Che Guevara, neither do I accept the negation of his efforts that runs through this book. To paint him as a flawed man with grandiose ideas is one thing; to portray him as nothing more than a spoiled child with delusions of grandeur throwing a temper tantrum is another.

Wonderfully written by Castaneda ...I am always interested about che's life ,his view on communism and his friendship with Castro.So far I am truly enjoying this book.The Author is portraying che as a good person but as I go through the book, che executed people himself. ....more.....
Now that I finished the book, I fully understand che 's legacy and my respect to him has change. He was a very intelligent and interesting person.

Che's story is interesting and poweful. That is the only reason, I gave this book 3 stars. I didn't like the way the author wrote the story. It was very unorganized. I am going to read "Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life"; that is quite popular. Maybe I will like that one more.
I'm notorious for not being able to plow through history books, unless they're extremely engaging. Truth is, I've been working on this one for a few years now--it hasn't left my nightstand in a while.
I find it to be pretty much unbiased, based on letters, documents, and interviews--tough, considering that he was such a controversial figure. However, not the most engaging history book I've ever read.
Sep 19, 2007 Lonnie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: communists
Long-winded, high brow apologetic which displays the author's admiration of his subject. He describes Che as a puritan martyr who was let down by Fidel, Khrushchev and, ultimately, the Bolivian peasantry. It was the first book I read on Che and I kept thinking the author was sugar-coating and romanticizing Che. It's a good book to read if one wants to justify their Che t-shirt.
Jun 27, 2007 Matt is currently reading it
Ridiculously detailed biography of Che Guevara. Castaneda is the premier Che author, no other biography should be taken as seriously as his. Incredibly interesting so far.

A magnificent book. Castaneda manages to be quite critical of Che Guevara's politics while being sympathetic. I feel I understand Guevara now. If you are interested in Guevara, Cuba, Latin America, third world revolutions and Cuba's relations with the U.S. and the Soviet Union, you will like this.
Rob Litvin
detailed from facts gathered from a lot of resources. I felt like the author tried to capture the ideals of Che in a positive light. probably to explain the fascination of the cult like following from people who believe he stands for pure revolution for the good of all people.
A fascinating and highly detailed book on one of the 20th century's most iconic figures, Castañeda's book is certainly worth a read. The amount of information in the book however was at times overwhelming but it nevertheless still stands as an outstanding biography
While the research is very thorough and well-sourced, the content was a bit difficult to read. It's good for a project but I would not recommend reading it on your spare time. I'll be checking out Jon Anderson's version of Che's biography in the future.
This is one of the best biographies that I have ever read. Castaneda is an amazing biographer. He is well-balanced and painted Che in a very unbiased way. He was both admiring while still presenting the ugly facets of his Che's political life.
Castañeda's portrayal of Guevara struck me as neither compelling nor, to be frank, unbiased. This book provided some revelations, in the declassified US documents etc, but proved to be ultimately unsatisfying.
if you have the tshirt and you've watched motorcycle diaries a dozen times but still don't know much about che guevera this is a great reference read.
the downside: it reads like a text book (complete with footnotes).
A fascinating portrail of someone that seems to be an enigma in our consumeristic life.

Read the full review at OurBookClub
Too much of a critique of previous material on Che, despite its dry academic style it still managed to provide a lot of insight into the life of the guy on every hipster's t-shirt.
on the 30th anniversary of che's death, 3 bios came out simultaneously. Jon Lee Anderson's became the most popular, but I found this one to be more balanced
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From Wikipedia:

Jorge Castañeda Gutman (born May 24, 1953) is a Mexican politician and academic who served as Secretary of Foreign Affairs (2000–2003).
Castañeda was born in Mexico City. He received the French Baccalauréat from the Lycée Franco-Mexicain in Mexico City. Then after receiving his B.A. from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in Economic History from the University of Paris (Panthéon-La So
More about Jorge G. Castañeda...
Manana Forever?: Mexico and the Mexicans La Herencia: Arqueologia de La Sucesion Presidencial En Mexico Utopia Unarmed: The Latin American Left After the Cold War Ex Mex: From Migrants to Immigrants The Mexican Shock: Its Meaning for the United States

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