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Chasing Che: A Motorcycle Journey in Search of the Guevara Legend Paperback – February 15, 2000
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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
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
In 1952, Che Guevara, then a young Argentinean doctor, took a motorcycle trip with a companion named Alberto Granado throughout South American. When the journey was over eight months later, Che had transformed into a revolutionary. He later became a hero in the Cuban revolution and was murdered in Bolivia in 1967. Che's own book, "The Motorcycle Diaries" has become a classic and I understand it will soon become a film.
I think Che's story is fascinating. However, I, personally, identified more with the writer, who carried the diaries of both Guevara and Granado with him on his own trip and took notes constantly. I absorbed his sense of adventure as he traveled the same roads as the legendary Che. Good thing Patrick Symmes, who is an American, speaks Spanish. He needed it throughout his trip, especially during the many times his own motorcycle, a BMW R80/GS, broke down.Read more ›
Mr. Symmes is impressive from a variety of perspectives. You are struck by his spirit, endurance and "guts" striving to replicate the Guevara's gritty adventure of the '50's. Curiosity to see whether Symmes and his BMW bike "Kookie" will complete the marathon alone keeps you reading. However, besides admiring his daring and iconoclasm, you find that Symmes is a solid scholar and a fine wordsmith.
The book provides an accurate and informative description of the depradations of the recent military dictatorships in Argentina and Chile, and points out the irony of how, long after he was dead, Guevara contributed to their emergence. Symmes also provides a moving description of the centuries old fate of the Latin American poor in Peru and Bolivia as well. While "up close" experience has made his perspective justifiably left of center he effectively makes his case by sticking to the unvarnished facts. He refrains from offering any half baked neo-Marxist aphorisms, and provides balance by noting the arrogance, chauvanism, pointless brutality, and ultimate hubris of Guevara, as well as the Machiavellian meglomania of Castro. The book's thesis is that Guevara the symbol and myth have ultimately have had far more global impact than any of the achievements of Guevara the man.
This book is educational, moving, and thought provoking whether you are left or right on the political spectrum. If you know little about Latin America or Che, you will learn quite a bit about this often ignored part of the world.
I guess my one surprise was the amount of trouble that he had with his BMW motorcycle. A friend of mine had one several years ago, the same model if not the same year, and it was almost indestructible. It had to be with my friend as the owner. So that was a disappointment.
The insights into the historical person Che became later are there, sort of sprinkled through the book as is a good look at the youth. He is not an adulator and he neither hides nor dwells on the dark side of being a committed revolutionary. Of course, Che was not yet committed at least when he started this journey. A warrior doctor along with the idea of a warrior priest has always seemed to be an oxymoron to me. The creation of exactly that which you have trained, at great cost, to fight must require conviction of a special kind. That Che was committed there can be no doubt - but why to this life course remains elusive for me. He was sensitive man, and a killer. A doctor and a soldier. A revolutionary and a mystic. Like Thomas Jefferson's utterly inexplicable slave holdings, these realities are also the reasons he still fascinates me.
I like the book. I think I would like the author and I recommend it as an interesting look at a difficult man and a romantic journey that I and perhaps you would have liked to have joined, and may still enjoy in spirit.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It was really striking how little seems to have changed in Latin America have changed since Che made the same journey some 40+ years before. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Michael
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 10 months 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 on January 15, 2014 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
Symmes shines his headlight on aspects of Che's life that legend has painted over. It is a rambling rotation of planned interviews, historical asides, personal anecdotes, and... Read morePublished on May 18, 2009 by Robert C. Thornett