Review of The Motorcycle Diaries, by Ernesto «Che» Guevara

Ernesto Guevara, before becoming the famous Che, was a young man full of ideals. Together with a friend from university, he decided to take a motorcycle trip throughout Latin America, which took place in 1952. During that trip, Ernesto Guevara took many notes and wrote several letters to his family in Buenos Aires, all of which make up this book.

Before I start talking about this book, I would like to mention its author, because if you don’t know him, I recommend that you start with the Wikipedia article. Ernesto «Che» Guevara:

Beyond any political issue that can be discussed, (that saying that goes, “better not to talk about politics”, which I do not like, I think the best thing is to be able to speak and discuss about all the subjects freely, although yes, respectfully), I think that all the books written by the Che have great historical value.

Reading about Ernesto Guevara’s trip through Chile, I learned a lot of history from the time of the Spanish conquest. Specifically about the conquistador Pedro de Valdivia and the Mapuche leader Lautaro, of which, I have to admit, I knew nothing. If you want to know more about that part of the history of Chile, you can find the links to Valdivia’s biographies here, and Lautaro’s, here.

In The Motorcycle Diaries, only a few glimpses are seen of what Ernesto Guevara would become later in his life. This book, above all, shows a young man traveling through Latin America, without much money, and all the vicissitudes of that trip. Of course, the beauty of the landscapes and the countries that Ernesto and his companion were visiting are also described, although also, and this must be said, the misery of these peoples. Only near the end of the book can you see how this journey begins to change the youth in depth due to the social inequalities of which he is witness. Below, you will find in the book quote section (if you want to call it like that), the part that clearly illustrates what I am saying.

Final comment: I liked the book more than I thought it would, because it is not a political treatise of any kind, but just a mere description of a trip. What changes everything, clearly, is who narrates the events, and what happened later. But, if we would forget that, the book has a great value in itself, for the photograph taken of Latin America of that time.

Book quote: (I will leave the quote in the original language, in Spanish, if you want to look it up, I’m sure you’ll find it in Goodreads) “Creemos, y después de este viaje más firmemente que antes, que la división de América en nacionalidades inciertas e ilusorias es completamente ficticia. Constituimos una sola raza mestiza, que desde México hasta el estrecho de Magallanes presenta notables similitudes etnográficas. Por eso, tratando de quitarme toda carga de provincialismo exiguo, brindo por Perú y por América Unida.

Keep on reading,

GG Klimt

Questions to answer in the comments:
Have you read any of Ernesto Guevara’s books? And in particular, have you read «The Motorcycle Diaries»? Did you like it? Do you agree with my final comments on the book? Have you read any similar books of the same genre that you would like to recommend? Please answer these questions in the comments section.

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