3. A book written in South America: The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey by Ernesto “Che” Guevara
List Progress: 14/30
Che Guevara is one of the most prominent revolutionary figures in modern history and his mark on the world will be studied for decades to come. I am sure that for people who are already fascinated by and studied in Guevara’s life, The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey is a useful read. However, as a piece of literature, this collection of memoirs detailing Guevara’s 1952 motorcycle journey from Argentina, up through South and Latin America, and up to Miami, leave a lot to be desired.
As a 23 year old medical student, Ernesto Guevara took a year off from school to travel from his home in Buenos Aires up through the length of South America, along with his friend biochemist Alberto Granado. They travel the first several legs of the trip on board a motorized bicycle, and when it eventually gives out, they continue the trip by way of foot, hitch-hiking, bargaining, and stowing away on various modes of transportation. The Motorcycle Diaries is an edited and collected compilation of his writings while on the road, and the biggest merit of them is the chance to see Guevara grow in real time, seeing his evolution as he becomes more aware of the poverty and structural inequality around him. By the end, he is beginning to come to some real realizations about humanity and his place in the world. But for the majority of the book, he comes across as an entitled, petulant and annoying young man giving pretensions to his extended vacation. Essentially, he comes across as the 23 year old dude on a gap year that he was at the time.
The appendix of the edition I read included an excerpt from a speech he gave eight years later, and the growth of his language and ideas is staggering. I would certainly be interested to read more of his later work in the future. But as far as The Motorcycle Diaries go, I consider it more of a historical document, only truly notable for who the writer went on to become, not for what it is on its own.
Would I Recommend It: No, unless you are independently interested in Guevara’s life.