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A motorcycle trip in 1952 marked a turning point for Ernesto Guevara Lynch de la Serna, a medical student returning from a journey into poverty and oppression with a vision of guerilla-style change and a new name, Che Guevara. Going on to help overthrow the Cuban government, align himself with Castro, and become elevated to martyred hero status when he was executed in Bolivia in 1967, Guevara's likeness is now commercialized and captured on T-shirts, castanets, and watches.
New York writer Patrick Symmes embarks on motorcycle tracing Guevara's route through Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Chile, and Cuba, seeking insight into what Guevara experienced and what his political movement wrought. Meeting with those who knew the young Che--among them a lover, a leper, and his motorcycle traveling cohort--proves interesting enough, though rarely insightful since some were children at the time, some are confused, and others refuse to talk openly. More revealing are Symmes's travels on his bike, nicknamed La Cucaracha. He winds through both Buenos Aires' high society and Peruvian poverty, finding a fragmented country where revolutions have brought mountain peasants fleeing to shanty towns, and where blind idealism coexists with blatant denouncement of the violent tactics used by Cuban Communists, even by Che's most respected soldiers. Beautifully written, the stories that unfold here reflect the complex contradiction that endures in Latin America three long decades after Ernesto "Che" Guevara's death. --Melissa Rossi
In 1952, a 17-year-old, prerevolutionary Che Guevara lit out with a friend on a motorcycle trip through Latin America. It was, as he wrote in his Motorcycle Diaries, a journey that would shape his attitudes toward politics, people and revolutions. Symmes, a freelance travel writer, traversed the same route in 1996, with entertaining and illuminating results. Fluidly moving between the past and the present, he tosses out observations about Che's expedition while chronicling his own adventures. In Argentina, Symmes encounters a defensive German who insists he is not a Nazi; in Chile he visits a utopian settlement founded by a wealthy and radical environmentalist; in Peru he visits a leper colony, the same one Che visited in 1952. Refreshingly, Symmes avoids digressions of self-discovery, instead letting his book serve as a primer for recent Latin American history and his own take on the region. Symmes's prose, like the Latin America he writes about, is spotted with gems. He says pointedly, "The funny thing about a dictatorship: it was great for culture. If there was one sure way Pinochet could support poetry, it was by staging a military coup." Unsentimental and funny, this book combines the spiritedness of a gonzo journalist with a serious reporter's sense of purpose. First serial rights to Talk magazine. (Feb.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Patrick Symmes' narrative of a solo trip on a BMW motorcycle through South America on a route that echoes the trip that Guevara and Granados took back in 1952 has a lot to... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Hartru Slide
I just finished reading Chasing Che by Patrick Symmes, a book about a journalist Patrick Symmes trying to recreate this motorcycle trip Che Guevera took around South America in the... Read morePublished 19 months ago by John Guzlowski
Having just riden a BMW F650GS in northern Chile, Bolivia and Peru, I came home and re-read Chasing Che. Read morePublished on May 5, 2013 by S Sylvester
Put me right there........back with Che'
Darn good read!!!!!!!!!
Cannot get enough of this motorcycle travel stuff.....
This guy was different however... Read more
I purchased and read this book because of my love of the South American continent, the people who live there and travel. Read morePublished on January 11, 2010 by Gaye Chicoine
This was the second read after several years. Still enjoyable, I think mostly to people who have ever wondered "Who was this Che person?" in the first place. Read morePublished on December 25, 2009 by Rebecca Bembry
"Chasing Che" as you can read from the book description is a story of the authors travels through South America following the same route that Ernesto "Che" Guevara and his friend... Read morePublished on November 8, 2009 by Michael Gioia
It speaks to the quirky nature of this book that the author, after studying and retracing Che Guevara's coming-of-age motorcycle journey, doesn't really seem to like Che too much. Read morePublished on May 18, 2009 by Robert C. Thornett
Patrick Symmes' journey doesn't limit its chase to retracing the steps of the young Ernesto Guevara, but also elaborates on the consequences wrought upon South America as the... Read morePublished on April 16, 2009 by Toboldi