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Che Guevara - A Revolutionary Life

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  14,724 Ratings  ·  552 Reviews
He became a myth in his own lifetime and an international martyr-figure upon his death; he was a revolutionary fighter, a military strategist, a social philosopher, an economist, a medical doctor, and a friend and confidant of Fidel Castro. Che Guevara's dream was an epic one - to unite Latin America and the rest of the developing world through armed revolution, and to end ...more
Paperback, 818 pages
Published 1997 by Bantam Books
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Jonathan Spencer
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Miles Jordan I wouldn't say that. I'd argue it may present portions of those countries but not the whole perspective. With that being said, you do learn a load…moreI wouldn't say that. I'd argue it may present portions of those countries but not the whole perspective. With that being said, you do learn a load about the Cuban Revolution in particular if you read it. I'd argue it is really about Che's life and you find out how much of an idealist and ideology in general that he was. (less)
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Jon Lee Anderson's biography of Che Guevara is exhaustively researched, which was a benefit to me, since I had never before studied Che's life in detail, nor had I read about the Bay of Pigs or the Cuban Missile Crisis from anything but an American perspective. I found it to be an illuminating, albeit sometimes exhausting, read.

This biography combines several approaches to history in one. In the first section, Anderson provides vivid details of Che's early life, his love of literature and learni
Diane Wallace
May 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great read! it has depth plus it was intricately researched and well written/balanced..saw the good and bad...highly recommend..(paperback!)
May 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Che believers but have no idea who the man really is.
“Shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a man.”
-Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara’s last words* (Anderson, 1991:735)

Ernesto 'Che' Guevara de la Serna

Those words make me shudder. And one will wonder, who this man is, that in his irrepressible idealism enlivened in clandestine activities and political conspiracies, dare deprive death of his satisfaction, for indeed decades later, Comandante Che, is now heroically revered.

Born Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, Che Guevara, was, unlike the ideology he died for
May 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Che, thug or hero? Many in the West are quick to say thug. Che was a true believer in liberating the underclass and freeing the countries from economic domination. He was critical of the Soviet's system of privilege and critical of those in post revolutionary Cuba should privilege. As far as being a thug he was quite tame compared to US supported dictators Somoza, Duvalier, Trujillo, and later Pinochet and Duarte. Support for Somoza loyalists brought more violence in Nicaragua but were supported ...more
Oct 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I rarely give those 5 stars, but after some hard thoughts, I decided that this one deserves it. The author tries to give an account as balanced as you possibly could about a man as complex as Che. The research effort put into this is immense and it shows in the details.

The important thing for me was that Anderson showed us both sides of the man. His other-worldly drive for justice and solidarity, but also his cold-blooded ruthlessness and obsession for discipline. I firmly think he is one of th
Oct 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I did not read Che because I'm a wannabe socialist or guerrilla. I read Che because I generally like biographies. I think it is good for twenty-somethings who are asking "what are my values and how will I commit to them in my life?" to read biographies of people who have done that whether their values are similar or different.

What I loved about this book was not only the lens on the fascinating history of Che's life and especially the Cuban revolution, but the dozens of journal excerpts from Ch
Over the years as Che Guevara was commodified, he became the most familiar figure and yet a misunderstood and unkown personality. He became a brand that was used to sell everything from t-shirts and mugs to canned beer. In all this commodification, Che’s life and what he stood for got lost. Who was this extraordinary man who gave up his privilege and everything he cherished and dedicated his life to an idea and died for it? This is a great biography that gives him a historical context and brings ...more
Amin Dorosti
Apr 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: marxism, biography
این کتاب یکی از بهترین بیوگرافی هایی هست که تا به حال خوانده ام و بی تردید بهترین کتابی ست که درباره چه گوارا تا به حال دیده ام، کتاب نه تنها خوش خوان و جذاب است، بر خلاف بسیاری از بیوگرافی ها اصلا کسل کننده و خسته کننده نیست. افزون بر این به نطر میرسد که نویسنده کوشیده است تا از موضعی بی طرفانه و یا حداقل با کمترین سوگیری به روایت زندگی یکی از بزرگترین چهره های قرن بیستم بپردازد.
کتاب را در سالهایی که سر پر شوری در گرایشات چپ داشتم و در فضای سیاسی دانشگاه به قولی خودم را یک چه گوارای کوچک می پند
Extremely interesting biography of a very controversial man. I'm still not quite sure what to think of him, but I know considerably more about him.

A side note: my used copy had annotations throughout the first 200 pages - entirely critical comments: 'bum', 'dumbass', etc. That is not the point of a biography, to confirm your own prejudices. It is to form a portrait of a man's life to analyze and learn from.
Sep 10, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
A great biography about a generally misunderstood figurehead. I have seen too much crap with Guevera's face on it; tees, bandanas, medallions, pencil holders, etc. His persona has been so commodifed it is important to understand who he was and what he represents. The book does not shy away from his dark moments; rape, murder, or his phenomenal ones; adrenaline shots into the heart, voluntary poverty. A fantastic book.
A.J. Howard

The great historical tragedy surrounding the legacy of Che Guevara is that man who was nothing but completely and utterly sincere has become a symbol of insincerity. I'm not sure if this was always the case, but at least when I see people of my generation wearing a Che shirt or displaying a Che poster, I no longer see the famous Korda photograph of Guevara, I see the words "I am a giant poser" tattooed in bold relief on that persons face. There may be people who are sincere in their admiration,

Aug 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: argentina
I highly recommend this book. All have heard of the icon Che Guevara (May 14, 1928 – October 9, 1967). This book shows you who he really was. His character, his weaknesses and strengths, his life-philosophy and goals, all of this is covered in this book. It is meticulously researched and full of exclusive information, for example previously unavailable information gathered from his second wife. It follows his life chronologically through to his death. After his death, in the epilogue, the lives ...more
K.D. Absolutely
May 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tata J
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books
Shelves: 501, memoirs
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I bought this book because I really had little to no idea who this guy was. I knew he was involved in the Cuban revolution, and that his face adorns thousands of T-shirts around the world, but that was it.

What really motivated me to finally sit down and read this book was something I saw in a Chinese restaurant about two or three months ago. I was sitting in the restaurant, waiting for my food when a twelve-year-old kid came in, wearing a Che Guevara shirt. I wondered if the kid even knew anyth
Nov 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Exhaustive to say the least but if you have any questions about the life of this man, this book will answer them for you. I do get the impression that Guevara would hate just about everybody walking around the US with his picture on a t-shirt.
Kamil Salamah
Oct 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quoting the author on the last page of the epilogue..." Around the time Che's body was exhumed, a scrawl of graffiti in Spanish had appeared on the wall of the Vallegrande public telephone office. It said: Che-Alive as they never wanted you to be".

This is his legacy.And the proof is, every time we witness a social movement or demonstration any where in the world, his ever famous portrait hangs HIGH.

They tried so hard to smear his character but to no avail. A man who lead by example. A man who p
Dec 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those interested in Latin-American (especially Cuban) history and politics
This is a hell of a book, both in length and content! I enjoyed getting a clear and ample picture of such a mythologized human being. Even as a Spanish major, I didn't hear very much about Che, other than that he wanted to be the new Bolivar and he was Castro's right-hand man.
Also, in USA, we tend to only hear about Che and Castro through the anti-Communist, Cold War Era lens. I also learned a lot about communism and its implementation in various countries throughout the world.
It took me a whi
G.d. Brennan
Aug 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Among Communism's dead and dying giants, Che Guevara stands out. Few of them lived a shorter life; the job title of "Major Communist Figure" seemed to grant Fidel Castro, Deng Xiaoping, Kim Il Sung and others a Methuselah-like longevity, whereas Che didn't live to see his fortieth birthday. But few, too, lived a life so chock full of romantic adventure, intrigue, myth and mystery. It's a life that retains a certain allure, a life that, to many, still seems worthy of veneration and emulation.

It i
Jan 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Monica by: Joe
Shelves: travel-history
9/4/09 People don't need me to tell them what a tremendous book this is. I can say now I know what happened. Che is a mythical figure but now I'm informed. Who ever said he killed 3,000 Batistas is wrong. It was more like 55, still not something to ballyhoo, but, to paraphrase Che's words 'kill them before they kill you'. His life and death is as sad as the squalor and poverty he tried to fight in Africa and South America where schools are more like prisons and people are left like animals unedu ...more
I haven't figured out why this guy is so lauded. His anti-imperialism in my opinion led to his own brand of imperialism by bringing his own political agenda to other countries. In one section it explains how he was different from the average Cuban, maybe because he wasn't Cuban? He is lauded as a brilliant and to a degree he had some good ideas however he wasn't smart enough to figure out Communism doesn't work. It's a Utopia that will never be fully achieved because people are not altruistic pe ...more
Matt Algiers
Nov 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history
As a biography, ignoring the content for a moment, Jon Lee Anderson has pulled of something incredible here. Of all the bios I have read this is undoubtedly the most expansive and comprehensive of the lot. From Ernesto's youth on an Argentinean farm to his days on the motorcycle to his first meeting with Fidel Castro and everything that comes after, this book covers it all in amazingly detailed detail. I just can't imagine doing the research for this book. It's an encyclopedia of a man's life! A ...more
Erik Graff
Sep 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: Alma Milat
Shelves: biography
This book was given me as a gift--an excellent one as the biography of Ernesto "Che" Guevara (b. Argentina 6/14/28–d. Bolivia 10/9/67) is not only well-researched but also balanced and very well-written. Although a cultural icon even in life, Che is presented realistically as the hopeful revolutionary he was--too radical and cosmopolitan, perhaps, to have lasted long as a Cuban administrator. One may not agree with his politics, but it is difficult not to admire the man's spirit.
Sep 12, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Küba Tarihi, Che
Che ve Küba tarihi hakkında okuma yapmak isteyenlerin diğer kaynaklara göre bulabilecekleri en tarafsız ve kapsamlı kitabın bu olacağını düşünüyorum.
Dec 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I decided to read this book in preparation for our holiday Cuba. I didn't finish it before leaving so I continued reading throughout the trip. The reading experience was enriched by landing in the Cuban reality.

A great part of the book is dedicated to the Cuban revolution and to Che's role in Cuban politics and diplomacy. And this is completely understandable as his fame is related to Cuba although he was an Argentinian.

Lack of knowledge regarding Cuba's history may lead to underestimating the
Dec 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
چه گِوارا - زندگی انقلابی
نوشته جانلی اَندرسن و ترجمه علیرضا رفوگران و انتشارات چشمه
.تا الان (94) این کتاب به چاپ سوم رسیده
:نوشته پشت جلد
.جان لی اندرسن، حرفه خبرنگاری را در دهه هفتاد میلادی در امریکای لاتین آغاز کرد
.او اکنون خبرنگار و عضو ثابت کادر نویسندگان نشریه نیویورکر است و او را خبرنگار خبرنگاران لقب دادهاند
،شیوه نگارش اندرسن و تعهد او به ارائه گزارشهای مستند، که بازتابی از موقعیت ممتاز حرفهای اوست
.چشماندازی کمنظیر از زندگی چهگوارا و همچنین تاریخ اجتماعی و سیاسی امریکای لاتین در اختیار خوان
Apr 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After trying to research information about Che on the internet and from people around me I found that there is a large amount of propaganda from both Cuban's and American's that conflict with what people are told that this man was like.
This books was thoroughly researched and showed both the great attributes of the man and the extreme views he held. It was also interesting to read about Che as a father, husband and son because I think it is forgotten that those close to him seemed to have to acc
Apr 14, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A comprehensive, meticulous, if somewhat plodding biography of one of the most universally misappropriated figures of the 20th Century. I'm not yet in the Sierra Maestra with Fidel, but the prologue to Che's rendezvous with history is still compelling. Did you know he was on hand when the CIA overthrew Arbenz in Guatemala? And folks wonder why Fidel didn't wait around for the US to do the same with the Batistianos (and they tried anway). BTW, if you ever wondered where he got the nickname, it is ...more
George Huxley
May 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: criers
Simply magnificent. Ernesto "Che" Guevara is truly one of the best men to ever walk the Earth. If you don't like him, please, just don't talk to me, because he is amazing and you have problems if you don't even at least consider him to have the greatest picture to ever adorn a college bedroom. The ultimate Marxist revolutionary and the last word in the political counter-culture scene. And I cried when he died, so props to John Lee Anderson, but mostly props to Che for being awesome enough to mak ...more
Jan 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What I learned from this book (outside of some really great historical gems):
1) Journalists are important
2) As are Economists. Cuba could have benefited tremendously from the free operation of both.
3) Place and time matter for any revolutionary. Che could have benefited from acknowledging this.
4) No one should want anyone to read their private diaries, because said diary scribe sounds like an a-hole. Sorry, Che. It's true.
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-memoir
از متن کتاب: شور و حال عاشقانه و طرز تفکر سرد و تحلیلگرایانه چه، که ترکیبی نامعمول بود، ایمان تزلزلناپذیر او را هر چه بیشتر تقویت میکرد. این آمیزهی متضاد به احتمال زیاد کلید دستیابی او به مرتبهای شبهعارفانه بوده است، اگرچه به نظر میرسد ضعف فطری او نیز از همینجا سرچشمه میگرفت؛ خیرهسری و نوعی سادهلوحی معصومانه. او که در شناسایی و برآورد ابعاد وسیع راهبردهای جنگی تبحر فراوان داشت، ناگهان در یک آن از شناخت مهرههای کوچکی که کل صفحه را تشکیل میدادند، عاجز میماند. نمونهی بارز این امر انتخاب فاجعهآمیز م ...more
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che guevara 3 21 Feb 08, 2018 03:47PM  
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Jon Lee Anderson, a staff writer, began contributing to The New Yorker in 1998. Since then, he has covered numerous conflicts for the magazine, including those in Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Angola, Somalia, Sudan, Mali, and Liberia. He has also reported frequently from Latin America and the Caribbean, writing about Rio de Janeiro’s gangs, the Panama Canal, the 2010 earthquake in Hai ...more
More about Jon Lee Anderson...

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“Charles Darwin, who had witnessed the
atrocities perpetrated against Argentina’s native
Indians by Juan Manuel de Rosas, had predicted
that “the country will be in the hands of white
Gaucho savages instead of copper-coloured Indians.
The former being a little superior in education,
as they are inferior in every moral virtue.”
“Ibsen: “Education is the capacity to confront the situations posed by life.” 2 likes
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