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Che's Afterlife: The Legacy of an Image (Vintage Original) Paperback – April 7, 2009


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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Original
  • Paperback: 388 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (April 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307279308
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307279309
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,165 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Casey, Buenos Aires bureau chief for Dow Jones Newswires, tap dances across history and the globe to examine intellectual property and iconography through the lens of the famous image of Che Guevara captured by fashion photographer Alberto Korda. Some say that only the famous photograph of Marilyn Monroe, her skirt rising as she stands over a subway grate, has been more reproduced, writes Casey. The author does not neglect the relevant biographical details or history, but his focus is Che as a brand. He wants to understand why the Korda image remains so compelling to such a wide variety of people and how it continues to represent so many different (and differing) causes; he suggests that the power of Che, the brand, is in its ability to be anything to anyone. The book can feel like a disorderly amalgam of travelogue, visual criticism, biography and reportage—fragments befitting a study of globalized culture. Readers interested in the impact of visual culture or in better understanding the elusiveness of intellectual property rights, particularly in a global marketplace, will find much food for thought. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“Fascinating. . . . Bracing and keenly observed. . . . Not only a cultural history of an image, but also a sociopolitical study of the mechanisms of fame.”
–Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“One of the first books on a rarely discussed aspect of Guevara–his branding and why it has endured for more than four decades. . . . Che’s Afterlife provides a detailed account of the ‘product launch’ of the Guevara brand, with Cuba’s Fidel Castro serving as ‘brand manager.’ In doing so, it offers lessons for Obama on how to rebrand the United States in Latin America.”
The Miami Herald

“There are those who only know Fidel Castro’s comrade in arms as a commercial image festooned on fashion, bottles of booze, air fresheners and even condoms. Journalist Casey unlocks the iconic image taken by Cuban lenseman Alberto Korda in what Casey calls ‘a frozen millisecond’ in 1960 Havana.”
New York Post

“Enthralling. . . . About as timely as a book gets. . . . Casey takes off on a quest to find the heart of the definition-of-seminal Che Guevara image. What he comes away with is a fascinating tale of the photographer, the history of the print itself and a global account of the countless places and people that exact image has touched.”
Weekly Dig (Boston)

Che’s Afterlife is worth the read for its historical clarity, Casey’s vivid storytelling, and his adroit analysis of the multilayered meaning of photography as both a vehicle for and a destroyer of ideals.”
–DigitalCity.com (America Online blog)

“In this entertaining and provocative book, Michael Casey takes us into the realm where Che’s martyrdom ends and his global branding begins. Che’s Afterlife is also a smart and sassy comment about our life and times; well worth the read.”
–Jon Lee Anderson, author of Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life

“The definitive account of the birth and dissemination of an iconic image. . . . A riveting tale of art and ambition, of rebellion and merchandising. . . . Illuminating and essential reading.”
–Héctor Tobar, author of Translation Nation

“Lively and informative. . . . Smartly chronicles the explosive Guevara growth industry in the marketplace of ideas and icons.”
–Tom Miller, author of Trading With the Enemy

“Eagle-eyed. . . . Insightful. . . . An evocative and well-written account of All Things Che.”
–Ann Louise Bardach, author of Cuba Confidential and Without Fidel

“A tour de force of pop cultural entertainment and analysis.”
–Professor David D. Perlmutter, author of Blog Wars

“[A] notable history of how the Che Guevara brand was “produced”. . . . Innovative.”
–Jorge Castañeda, author of Compañero: The Life and Death of Che Guevara

More About the Author

A native of Perth, Western Australia, Michael Casey is a managing editor at Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal in New York, where he specializes in global financial markets.
Casey is the author of two books. His first, Che's Afterlife: The Legacy of an Image, is a history of and cultural commentary on Alberto Korda's famous image of Che Guevara, the world's most reproduced photographic image. It was chosen as one of New York Times' critic Michiko Kakutani's Top Ten picks of 2009.
His second book, The Unfair Trade: How Our Broken Global Financial System Destroys the Middle Class, will go on sale on May 29, 2012. It looks at the global financial crisis through the stories of ordinary citizens around the world.
Casey lives in Pelham, New York, with his wife and two daughters.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 11 customer reviews
It was a fascinating journey with an amazing set of characters.
J. Della-Giacoma
More a book about icons and branding than a history of Che Guevara, it's well worth the read.
Meg Murry
A thoroughly entertaining book, which balances analysis with storytelling.
Melanie Naylor

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Meg Murry on April 20, 2009
Format: Paperback
For anyone who's ever wondered about the real story behind the Che t-shirt, this is the book for you. Casey is a clever, witty storyteller and he takes you from the moment the photo was snapped by Alberto Korda in Havana in 1960 through to the global brand he thinks Che's photo has become today. More a book about icons and branding than a history of Che Guevara, it's well worth the read.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Melanie Naylor on May 14, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This superbly executed book examines Che Guevara as global brand, repository for ideals, and deals with the many conflicting accounts of the history of Guevara and the Cuban Revolution. It interweaves the stories of the revolutionary, the powerful Korda image, with well constructed consideration of the political, economic, historical and social factors which have made Che such an enduring icon.

A thoroughly entertaining book, which balances analysis with storytelling.
Beautifully presented, and written with style and humour.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Geoffrey Rogow on February 11, 2010
Format: Paperback
I was completely blown away by this book. To use and overused cliche, Casey is an avid storyteller that has mixed everything you'd want in a book together. I was intrigued, entertained and felt personally attached to the subject, while turning many of my preconceived notions on their head.

The argument over Che admiration that borders on deity worship is best told by someone in Casey's position. Being detached from the subject enables him to tell the story with facts and the heart of people on both sides of the debate. And the brand of Che, what it has been used for by governments, revolutionaries and even the most simple of cultures, is worth this careful examination.

As a disclaimer, I work at the same media firm as Mr. Casey, though that has not in any way shaped my views on this book. Emotional and sharply written, it's clearly a must-read for anyone who has ever worn the Che T-shirt. More broadly though, the examination of Cuban revolution through branding and economic constraints comes at just the right time in the global decoupling debate.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By jst-bone on January 22, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This has to be the most unique way of dealing with a leftist icon. Che was a monster with "good intentions". He belongs on a T-shirt...but not in the heart of any teenager . I gave this book to a "liberal" friend and suggested that Obama was marketed just like Che. She was not pleased with the comparison.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ed Caldwell on July 11, 2012
Format: Paperback
Having grown up in middle class America in the 60's and 70's and having worn many Che T-Shirts, I enjoyed reading this book and getting a better understanding of how this image was used and exploited for profit. At the time, this t-shirt was very popular in my town and could be purchased in most stores. I think that many young people, like myself, did not consider the history of Cuba's revolution and Ernesto's crimes against the Cuban people when they wore the shirt. A mistake I think! As the years have passed since Korda's photograph and more facts have surfaced about Ernesto's life, I find it disturbing that this image is still so popular! I recommend this book to anyone interested in Cuban history, American "pop culture", and our facination with t-shirt art!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kelly Cooper VINE VOICE on September 1, 2011
Format: Paperback
This a fascinating, thoughtful and insightful study of "Guerrillero Heroico," the famous photograph of Che Guevara taken by Alberto Korda on March 5, 1960. Without ever losing sight of the political and ideological ironies underpinning the legacy of the photo, Michael Casey has developed a clear-eyed narrative of the photo's cultural history; including its uses as propaganda, art, intellectual property, spiritual talisman and a conveyor of sacred values.

Shelved appropriately in the "Cultural Studies" section of bookstores, this is decidedly not a political science book or a lopsided polemic. Nor is it an extended exercise in art criticism. The central story, which involves the evolution of an icon, is not one that can be easily shunted into previously existing genres. In a sense, there is no template for writing this story and Casey does a phenomenal job of elucidating his subject while showing unwavering respect for those most invested (emotionally and financially) in Guerrillero Heroico.
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