The Bolivian Diary

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9780007322466: The Bolivian Diary

With an introduction by Fidel Castro

Che Guevara's famous last diary, found in his backpack after he was captured by the Bolivian Army in 1967, and which played a pivotal role in catapulting him to iconic status after his death.

In 1967 Che Guevara left Cuba to lead the Bolivian Liberation Army. In the jungles of Bolivia they attempted to initiate a revolution like that in Cuba, in which Che had played such a central role. This fascinating diary describes the troubled guerrilla campaign until Che’s final entry on the 7th October 1967 – the day before his capture by the CIA-backed Bolivian Army and his execution.

Following the phenomenally successful film adaptation of ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’, two of Che Guevara's later and most insightful diaries are being brought to the big screen in 2009. Directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Benicio del Toro, ‘Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War’ and ‘The Bolivian Diary’ will be released as ‘Che Part 1’ and ‘Che Part 2’.

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Review:

Looking back on the life of his revolutionary comrade Che Guevara in his introduction to the Bolivian Diary, Fidel Castro claims that "rarely, if ever, in history has one man's image, name and example spread so rapidly and so completely". Ernesto Guevara de la Sema is the ultimate revolutionary, an icon who spawned a million T-shirts, and whose death in 1967 whilst fermenting revolution in Bolivia enshrined him as a martyr of the radical Left. In his short life Che Guevara led military revolutions in Mexico, the Congo and, most famously, Cuba, before heading to Bolivia in 1966 to establish a guerrilla movement in an attempt to overthrow the Bolivian military dictatorship.

His Bolivian Diary, first published in Cuba in 1968, is the remarkable and ultimately tragic first-hand account of Che's formation of a tiny band of revolutionaries, his attempt to proselytise the local peasants, his skirmishes with the Bolivian army, and his final shootout and cold-blooded execution at the hands of the military in October 1967. Stripped of the romantic idealism usually associated with Che, the diary is a sobering account of the drudgery, fear and monotony of guerrilla warfare. Much of the diary is taken up with the preoccupations of basic survival in the primitive conditions of the Bolivian mountains, whilst playing a tense and often ineffective game of hit and run with the Bolivian army. There are some wonderful moments, such as Che breaking off from military preparations to remember that, "I must write some letters to Sartre and Bertrand Russell..." or commandeering a jeep and running it on the urine of his guerrillas. Ultimately this is a tough, uncompromising portrait of a ruthlessly disciplined and single-minded man, relishing a conflict which "gives us the opportunity to turn ourselves into revolutionaries, the highest state of the human species". --Jerry Brotton

Review:

Praise for the films, ‘Che Part 1’ and ‘Che Part 2’:

‘Brilliant.’ The Times

‘A grand Hollywood war movie. Del Toro gives a stunning performance as Che Guevara. ****’ Empire

‘Soderbergh’s best film. A masterpiece. ****’ Total Film

'”Che” is brilliant…incandescent – a piece of full-on, you-are-there realism…[A] perfect dream movie, which is also politically vibrant and searing.' Jeffrey Wells, Hollywood Elsewhere

'”Che” is a piece of entertainment that delivers excitement, pathos and pure film-making passion…The end result is masterful – expressive, innovative, striking, exciting.’ www.cinematical.com

Praise for ‘The Bolivian Diary’:

'Guevara was a figure of epic proportions. These diaries, stark and moving, will be his most enduring monument.’ Observer

'Vivid and compelling.' Economist

Praise for ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’:

‘It’s true; Marxists just wanna have fun.’ Guardian

‘What distinguishes these diaries is that they reveal a human side to El Che which historians have successfully managed to suppress…one senses El Che’s belief that determination and conviction can be enough to change one's self and others…a joy to read from start to finish.’ Financial Times

‘Political incorrectness galore…this book should do much to humanise the image of a man who found his apotheosis as a late Sixties cultural icon. It is also, incidentally, a remarkably good travel book about South America.’ Scotsman

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