The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey

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Biography Currently Reading History Latin America Memoir Non Fiction Nonfiction Politics To Read Travel

About this book

The book of the popular movieSTARRING GAEL GARCIA BERNALNOW A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER The young Che Guevara’s lively and highly entertaining travel diary.This new, expanded edition features exclusive, unpublished photos taken by the 23-year-old Ernesto on his journey across a continent, and a tender preface by Aleida Guevara, offering an insightful perspective on the man and the icon. “As his journey progresses, Guevara’s voice seems to deepen, to darken, colored by what he witnesses in his travels. He is still poetic, but now he comments on what he sees, though still poetically, with a new awareness of the social and political ramifications of what’s going on around him.”—January Magazine “A journey, a number of journeys. Ernesto Guevara in search of adventure, Ernesto Guevara in search of America, Ernesto Guevara in search of Che. On this journey of journeys, solitude found solidarity, ‘I’ turned into ‘we’.” —Eduardo Galeano “When I read these notes for the first time, I was quite young myself and I immediately identified with this man who narrated his adventures in such a spontaneous manner… To tell you the truth, the more I read, the more I was in love with the boy my father had been…” —Aleida Guevara “Our film is about a young man, Che, falling in love with a continent and finding his place in it.” —Walter Salles, director of “The Motorcycle Diaries.” Also available in Spanish: DIARIOS DE MOTOCICLETA (978-1-920888-11-4) Features of this edition include:A preface by Che Guevara’s daughter AleidaIntroduction by Cintio Vintier, well-known Latin American poetPhotos & maps from the original journeyPostcript: Che’s personal reflections on his formative years: “A child of my environment.”  Published in association with the Che Guevara Studies Center, Havana

Reader's Thoughts

Karan Gupta

A fleeting reading of a friend's profile somewhere (do not remember where) brought to my notice that The Motorcycle Diaries was a book. In fact, it was her favourite. I had seen the movie and I thought the movie had done a pretty impressive job of showing the adventurous nature of Che Guevara's pan-american trip. But since I was having similar fascinations of recent, I decided to give the book a read.The story provides a more vivid description of the hardships that the two travellers faced. But the movie provided a more graphic description of the journey and the American landscape. Both together complete the effect that Guevara might have wanted to create. The initial travel on the bike and the various accidents and mishaps that they are subjected to, and later on the completion of the journey on foot and hitching rides in a state of utter impecuniousness and ingenuity; all of these strike a chord somewhere in the heart of anyone who harboured dreams of adventure at some time in his life. The journey ends in a very inspired Guevara, something that the reader understands when he reads about the things Guevara sees.Alberto Granado and Ernesto Guevara start off on their journey to the North America on La Poderosa II from Argentina. They plan an unrealistic itinerary and find themselves far away from either their target or their loved ones. The idea of completing their adventure drives them on. The bike eventually breaks down in Cuba and they continue thenceforth hitching rides on trucks and living off the meals offered to them in hospitality. They travel through Cuba and Peru, in the valleys of the Incas. Guevara observes the state that the natives live in. The kind of labour that the miners are forced to do for foreign firms and how it was eroding the spirit of a united Latin America. The two travellers develop a strong fascination for the natives and the poorer class of the society. They also meet a lot of leprosy experts and develop a liking for research in the domain. Granado and Guevara finally part in Venezuela and go their separate ways.Guevara has made a pretty good travelogue but his limited skills as a writer make this travelogue a little incomplete for the reader. Fortunately, Walter Salles's rendition of the book makes up for Che's lacking skills. The complete effect is a very inspiring one. At least for the adventurous of the soul. Guevara, however, is not on my reading list. I might get around to reading his other works on guerilla warfare and communism sometime but it is not on the top of my list.

Joyce

"The Motorcycle Diaries" documents the journey of young Ernesto Guevara through Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia and Venezuela. Together with his friend Alberto Granado he travels through those countries on a motorcycle, between 1951 and 1952. This journal is not a dusty, political biography. And it's also not just an ordinary journey. It's so beautiful to see how Ernesto empathizes with ordinary people and how his political extremism is developed along the way. Guevara was a very important man, even before he became a great leader he did a lot for the people. He did amazing things for mankind and it's a truly inspiring story. The journey changed Ernesto and which in turn led him to try to change the world. I devoured this book in just a couple of hours, which means it was very good.

trina

i loved this insight into the man before the myth. his writing is evocative, so you feel you are right there with him on the road, hungry, dirty, exhilirated, and seeing the world as it truly is for the first time. i can't imagine a person (who has a heart) journeying through latin america even today, especially from a doctor's point of view, and not concluding the same thing as che: things have to change. individual efforts here and there mean nothing in the face of such widespread poverty and injustice. really though, the book doesn't bludgeon you over the head with politics or ideology. he was just a kid, after all. mostly it's a very good adventure story.

محمد على عطية

هذا الكتاب يسرد وقائع رحلة قام بها ارنستو (تشى) جيفارا مع صديقه ألبرتو جرينادو على ظهر دراجة نارية عبر أمريكا اللاتينية بدءاً من مدينتهما -قرطبة- بالأرجنتين و ذلك فى عام 1951/1952, و كان عمره وقتها 24 سنة و لا يزال فى السنة النهائية فى كلية الطب.من خلال السرد نرى بعينى جيفارا صورة لأمريكا اللاتينية فى هذا العصر, و إذا اعتبرنا أن هذا الكتاب من أدب الرحلات فبذلك سنبخسه حقه....فبأمكان أى منا أن يزور نفس الأماكن و نخرج بوصف قريب لها..أما البشر, فيعتمد هذا على إحساسك بهم....و لابد أنك ستتخيل ما هى نظرة جيفارا للكثير من المرضى و الفقراء و المقهورين الذين قابلهم فى عدة دول بأمريكا اللاتينية.عندما تجد أن الرجل قد كتب ما كتب و هو فى الرابعة و العشرين من عمره ستعلم أن الرجل كان متسقاً مع نفسه...إنه نفس المناضل الذى عرفناه بعد هذا التاريخ ب10 سنين كأحد أبرز قادة الثورة الكوبية..و أحد المناضلين ضد الإمبريالية فى العالم الثالث و خصوصاً أمريكا اللاتينية بطبيعة الحال.و إهتمامه الإنسانى المبكر بالعمال و طبقة البروليتاريا الكادحة , و كذلك تعامله مع مرضى الجذام بالصورة التى وصفها فى الكتاب يؤكد لنا مدى إتساقه مع نفسه كما ذكرنا.بحكم السن تبدو شقاوة الشباب واضحة فى سطور الكتاب و طريقة الوصف و المغامرات..لكن مع هذا تبدو ثقافة جيفارا....و لكم أعجبتنى بعض التعبيرات التى استخدمها - و كانت جديدة على - مثل قوله (أكلنا السمكة متبلة ببهارات جوعنا)..و هو مثل المثل القائل (الجوع أحسن طباخ) لأنك فى حال جوعك سيكون همك هو أن تملأ بطنك و يأتى الطعم فى مرحلة متأخرة من الأولويات..و انت مو انت و انت جعان :)))استوقفنى فى بداية عرضه للكتاب قوله:(أن الرجل الذى كتب هذه اليوميات توفى لحظة لمست قدماه تراب الأرجنتين...لأن السفر و ما رآه فى (أمريكتنا)قد غيرنى أكثر مما حسبت) .و كذلك استوقفنى الحوار فى نهاية الكتاب مع الرجل الذى قابله فى فنزويلا و كأنه يتنبأ له بدوره المرسوم فى النضال.و أتشوق لقراءة ما كتبه عن يوميات الثورة...إذا وجدته

Jim

Long before he became a martyred revolutionary icon made to order for hipster T-shirts, Ernesto "Che" Guevara was a goofy and even funny middle class kid from Argentina. While in his early twenties, he talked his fellow med student Alberto Granado into a trip across South America. How? Why, on Alberto's rickety Norton 500 motorcycle, nicknamed La Poderosa II ("The Mighty One II"). This book is the story of their journey, lasting approximately until he and Alberto split up in Venezuela, where the latter found work.In the meantime, La Poderosa managed to make it over the Andes (with considerable help) into Chile, where it gave up the ghost miles south of Santiago. From then on, the two were dependent on hitching rides, and even stowing away aboard a ship to Antofagasta. But they are caught and forced to work for their keep and play cards with their captain, who never seemed to sleep.The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey is actually a fun book to read. One could begin to see Guevara's sympathies for the downtrodden indigenous people in Peru, where there is considerable tension between the Aymara and the ladinos, the Mestizos who are intent on treating them like dirt. Eventually, after many a diversion, they make it to the San Pablo Leper Colony near Iquitos, where they spend some time before continuing north. Both Granado and Guevara had been interested in leprosy and made friends by their treatment of the patients as fellow human beings.The book ends with a speech made years later in Castro's Cuba entitled "A Child of My Environment," which, thankfully, is abridged for this edition. I liked Guevara a whole lot more when he was describing suffering from one asthma attack after the other while trying to find free food, accommodation, and transportation in Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela. In the end, the two med students were like hoboes -- but it is interesting that they frequently found the help they so desperately needed. Except for the speech at the end, the book is virtually devoid of any political content. In fact, Che seems to come across at the time as a supported of the Argentine dictator Juan Peron and his wife Evita -- though those scenes may have been only to make conversation with curious Peruvians.

Dhruv Goel

Very exalted after watching "The Motorcycle Diaries", I decided to buy the book and read it. For me Che Guevara was an inspirational figure, since, I watched a documentary on him when I was a child. Obviously I am entranced by the book but I will write this review as honestly as possible.It is like a travelogue which is a little vague on the places and a little study of the map of South America would greatly help in admiring the beauty described in the book. But as you will read you will observe that the narrator is drifting, here and there, towards the plight of indigenous people and also providing historical details of place. Sure the marks of future revolutionary can be clearly seen. While you are reading try to live their experiences, imagine them happening to you, dream that you are on a similar adventure, if you live in a post-colonial country then try to understand your people's past, then ask the question - Will you try such a travel again? Compare your answer with future endeavors of Che and you will understand my rating, as you may understand my answer.I am confident that you cannot finish this book without admiring the beautiful phrases in which he share his visions, knowing the future of the writer greatly helps in understanding those lines which, rather subliminal at first, fill you with wonder.

Julia

Although it took me almost a month to read this relatively short book, I found it very interresting and written in a literary reflective style. It made me wish my journal sounded as coherent and intelligent. The Diary did a great job expressing the feelings and thoughts of a young man who changed from his journey through Latin America. It was really cool to get into the young Che's head and see how, why, and when he began to change into the revolutionary icon so many of us know him as today. Since this is a diary, it reads as one, and the events that create an overarching continuous story are loosely held together. However, where this lacks in story, the Diary makes up for in the analytical, internal musings of Che's mind.

Adam

An travelogue by an unusual traveller. Young Che Guevara and a fellow medic set off on a motorcycle trip around the continent of South America. Soon, they have to abandon their vehicle and they continue their journey nevertheless.Che paints a very sympathetic portrait of a young man (himself!) discovering the problems of the world beyond his own doorstep. He might have become a great doctor had he stuck to curing illness rather than regimes.

Sindy Li

For the past few days I traveled through South America's pampas, forests, mountains, lakes and the Amazon on Che's motorcycle and had the most amazing time. I never imagined Che Guevara would be one of my favorite authors, but now I adore his writing which is full of humor, compassion, romanticism, childlike sincerity and youthful charm. I did not fall in love with him, but rather I felt that we were the same person--it also helps that he was exactly my age while on the trip (turning 24). His book really reminds me that we are only young once, and he did what I think is exactly that which one should do when young: going on an adventure to see the world, its natural wonders as well as the beauty and suffering of its people, and then deciding to do something to make their lives better (though I'd choose development economics rather than socialism to achieve that). (I'll wait a while before I read his other diary, that of a grown-up and revolutionary Che)

Kali Srikanth

Translated by his daughter, this book is a travel diary of Ernesto Che Guevara as an enthusiastic & excited youth, who planned an adventurous trip to all of Latin America, on a Motorcycle, along with a friend.Book is enriched by rare collection of photographs that boasts of places they visited, people they met, food they ate & hiccups they experienced. One thing is clearly evident; they carried lot of energy with them. Sure they were low on fuel, finance & luck, but they got great passion for life & a Great Spirit to move forward as life takes them.This book is a mere travelogue on surface level, but on deeper level, it’s an introduction to the human face of Che Guevera, who was introduced to the world of suffering that has a role in shaping of a revolutionary in him. And at the same level, book is abrupt, incomplete and mere-a-bore-at-parts too. So, to me, liking or disliking this book greatly depends on two statements:1. You have just heard of Che Guevara.2. You know a great deal about the great Che Guevera.I fall in the first category, hence 3 stars. Personal Note: I heard some positive words about the movie so, I think I will enrich this review soon with a word or two about it.

Benny Livingston

This book gives you a very nice first hand (though somewhat biased) view of the state of Latin America during the cold war and the other countries interferences into it. Following young Ernesto and his good friend Alberto as they go on a motorcycle journey through Central and South America, seeing first hand the problems the people people of these places face and the unfairness they are subjected to. Written as a diary this novel gives you feel for Ernesto as it shows his feelings and his thoughts, allowing for the reader to truly see how Ernesto grows and matures over the course of the book. This book really gets you thinking and is very hard to put down, its one of the best I've ever read, and i cannot recommend this book enough to people who enjoy history, or politics. 5/5 Must read

Ryan

Had to see what the fuss was all about. I found the chronicle well-written, and of course knowing the context of the rest of his history-making life, I do find it remarkable to have a document of his developing mind. You get to know Guevara as a merrymaker, a resourceful engineer, and a charismatic person. And his writing is good, that is put on clear display. But I felt myself looking for some form of evidence of the great change that he underwent politically. I didn't find it. He goes into brief explorations of his thoughts, but always seems to tail off just as he seems to be getting somewhere. He seems somewhat sympathetic to the plights of some of the indigenous and working-class folks that he meets, but he never seems driven to do anything about it, and I don't really get the sense of the supposed great transformative effect that this journey was alleged to have had on him. A lecture from later in his life is tacked onto the copy that I have of this book, and I found myself really feeling like there were big missing pieces between his diary and his lecture.

yamami

الرحلات/الأسفار تمنحنا ، تُعلمنا الكثير .. تُرينا الصورة من كل الزوايا .. تُعيد فلسفة الحياة في قلوبنا .. أؤمن أن الإنسان يتغير وتتوسع معارفة بعد كل رحلة سفر يقوم بها ، فكيف إذا كانت الرحلة لـ عام كامل وبرفقة صديق على دراجة نارية؟الكتاب ممتع ، وتفاصيل الرحلة غاية في البساطة والجمال أجمل ما في الكتاب إحساس الحرية العميق ..؛ أغبط من يَملك روحاً توّاقة للإرتحال مع القدرة على ذلك

Matthew

This is a first-hand account of Ernesto "Che" Guevara's trip across South America with his good friend. Guevara is not a professional writer and it shows in his straight-forward delivery of the material. It's a diary and it reads like a diary. There is very little exposition here. It's just a blow-by-blow account of the events that took place.What I found interesting was that Che was a passionate medical student who just wanted to help people, quite in contrast to his later guerrilla life with Castro. It's amazing that such a caring, gentle person would go on to become such a vicious individual.I guess that's part of the enigmatic personality that has kept Che Guevara on people's minds for the past 50 years. I just wish all those Hot Topic kids would learn about the man behind that iconic image on their t-shirt. Some of them might not be so quick to wear those shirts in public anymore when they find out what a incompetent butcher he became in Castro's Cuba.

Nikhil

This is a book which everybody in their 20s need to read. At a time when everyone is trying to settle down into a career which would reap harvests eventually, where you dream of going on your dream trips eventually, where you would want to read that book or draw the painting or write the poem, eventually; we have a book about a 20 something who does it all. The story of Che before he became The Che, when he still is a rash youngster hot blooded and filled with hunger for adventure. In spite of which, he displays a caring philosophical mind of a legend in making. Filled with good servings of humour, in this travelogue, you take the place of Alberto Granado and travel across South America with Che. There are so many lines which will remain etched in one's memory forever, like his description of the terminally ill lady. Read this book, if you dream of travelling, if you had dreams of travelling. May bea towards the end of it you just might want to live the life Che Guevara did.

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