Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Motorcycle Diaries

The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey
© Ernesto Guevara (Ocean Press 2004)
175 pages

"Along the roads of our daydream we reached remote countries, navigated tropical seas and traveled all through Asia. And suddenly, slipping in as if part of our fantasy, the question arose:
'Why don't we go to North America?'
'North America? But how?'
'On La Poderosa, man.'

I know very little of "Che" Guevara except that he is regarded as a revolutionary, idolized and hated by many. When I saw The Motorcycle Diaries on a reccommended reading list, I decided it might serve as an introduction to the man. The story begins before Guevara does the things for which he is so famous:  at this point, he is but a student nearly finished with his medical education. He and his friend decide to drive their motorcycle La Poderosa northward:  The Motorcycle Diaries is the chronicle of their journey, written after the fact and augmented by Guevara's musings on how his perceptions have changed.  As the two journey up the western coast of South America (through Chile and Peru before traveling east to Venezuela),  they are taken by both the beauty of the land, the hospitality of strangers, and the misery of working conditions for many, particularly miners. Although Guevara's political sentiments do not appear often, when they do they are expressed with a strong passion. Most memorable  are his opinions that the time has come for politicians to stop talking about their accomplishments and actually do something to help the working people and that the United States' interference in the affairs of nations like Chile must end if the people of those nations are to prosper. As said, I do not know much about Che the man and found the book to be of most inference when he waxed poetically about the landscape or described the living conditions of people.

The book should be  of obvious interest to those interested in Che Guervara, as well as to those interested in living and political conditions of South America during the time.


  1. I've had this book on my shelf for a while now not long after seeing the film. I need to bump it up my reading list!

    Maybe over Easter when I have 10 days off. Plenty of time for reading... [muses]

  2. It's a rambling journey punctuated by funny or tragic anecdotes, a few political comments, and some lush descriptions.

  3. I have several books on Guevara or by him. The only one I've read so far is his book on Guerrilla Warfare - which was interesting and certainly got me some funny looks when I read it during my work lunch break!