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Back on the Road: A Journey Through Latin America Paperback – September 17, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This second volume of travel diaries by revolutionary icon Guevara (after Motorcycle Diaries) shows the 25-year-old rebel wandering around South America in the latter half of 1953, bopping from country to country before settling in Guatemala, where a leftist government led by Jacobo Arbenz had just come into power. In his diaries and letters home to his mother, Guevara writes of his ambivalence about the Communists (he doesn't want to join, because it would keep him from traveling to Europe) and how his desire to help out in Guatemala is impeded by near-crippling bouts of asthma. After the CIA overthrows the government in 1954, Guevara makes his way to Mexico, where, over the next two years, his radicalization becomes complete. The diary lacks explicit transitions, however, so the days blur into one another, and this, combined with Guevara's emphasis on more quotidian concerns like his health and lack of funds, makes it easy to overlook the key dramatic moments in his story. One of these, for example, is Guevara's first meeting with then-exiled Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro, in 1955, but all he has to say about that day is that Castro is "a young intelligent guy, very sure of himself and extraordinarily audacious; I think we hit it off well." Shortly afterward, Guevara launches into a long description of several Mayan ruins. With the wealth of comprehensive biographies available, it's hard to see the appeal of this slim volume beyond scholars and whatever hard-core fans of Che are still left in the 21st century. Photos not seen by PW. (Oct.)
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

In 1953 at the age of 25, having just graduated from medical school, Guevara set off on a journey through Latin America. This two-year diary (following The Motorcycle Diaries, 1995) of his sojourn records impressions and conversations with assorted companions: serious and frivolous friends; the woman he eventually marries; and exiles from various social movements, including two men who later become presidents of their respective countries. But he also records his personal development from an adventurous, though cynical, young man of the comfortable middle class to an ardent revolutionary. After six months in Guatemala, Guevara emerges as a man searching for a movement to match his political idealism. Guevara records his first meeting in Mexico with Fidel Castro, whom he describes as a "young, intelligent guy, very sure of himself and extraordinarily audacious." Guevara also chronicles labor uprisings and resistance against the influences and interests of the U.S and its intelligence operations. Guevara's passions for history, archaeology and science are also apparent in this absorbing glimpse of the development of a legendary revolutionary figure. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; First American Edition edition (September 17, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802139426
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802139429
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,211,369 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ernesto Che Guevara was born in Argentina in 1928. After fighting alongside Fidel Castro in the three-year guerilla war in Cuba, he became Minister for Industry following the victory of the Cuban revolution. In 1966 he established a guerilla base in Bolivia. He was captured and killed in 1967.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Shannon on January 17, 2004
Format: Paperback
Having just read "Motorcycle Diaries" and loving it, I was eager to read this book. The problems with it are two-fold. It was edited by his widow and not by Guevara himself as the first book was. In the preface it is noted that she extracted parts of the original text. The second fault is that it is a journal but it is written with very few dates. There are no breaks between daily entries so as you read along from paragraph to paragraph several days worth of entries are present. It makes the text hard to follow. His writing is still interesting but also several times he writes that nothing new is happening. It seems that his "heart" is not in this journal. There is some very interesting information included though ranging from the disaffected tone about which he writes to his mother about his first marriage to his firsthand observation of the overthrow of the Guatemalan government. The highlights of the book are the letters he wrote home to family and friends. It is a short book and definetly worth a read but don't have the expectation that it will be as good as "Motorcycle Diaries".
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mary Pat Larsen on January 31, 2006
Format: Paperback
A diary that is rambling but compelling to read. Hard to put down. Shows transformation of Motorcycle Diaries Earnesto (Che) Guavera into soon to be Commandante Che of Cuban Revolution--the endearing kitten who grows up to be the feral and rather large cat in the living room. It starts out as a story of a young man with itchy feet who cannot tolerate boredom (ADHD comes to mind). Soon, however, he becomes embroiled in an intense politcal struggle which begins in Guatemala. The outcome of the Guatemala struggle develops Che's adult vision of a united Latin America, free of United Fruit and "Yanqui" domination, which continues for the rest of Ernesto (Che) Guevara's brief life.

This book shows a part of United States and Central American history of which few North Americans are aware. I know I wasn't.
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By A Customer on July 10, 2004
Format: Paperback
I found Back on the Road at Shakespeare & Co. in Paris. I had not know about this book and it is a splendid companion to his Motorcyle Diaries, in fact reading both books let's you look into Che's mind and what made him a Revolutionary. His style of writing appeals to me, he writes about what he sees, how he feels, and best of all, his friends and lady friends, he seems to have been catnip to women, but, he writes in a style that does not talk down to either sex and this makes him easily the best revolutionary writer of his time. Che is very popular in Europe and not just with the younger generation. Buying this book will open your eyes to what Che was really like.
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By ed uznanski on April 5, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a good follow up to the motorcycle diaries.It would be helpful but not necessary to read it first.I believe very man has a good side & Earnesto shows his in his views on people who are less fortunate than he was.
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