Che’s Legacy

Randall, Margaret. Che on My Mind. Duke Univ. Oct. 2013. 152p. illus. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780822355786. $69.95; pap. ISBN 9780822355922. $19.95. BIOG

More than 45 years after Che Guevara’s death, his image and legacy continues to grow. Randall (cofounder, El Corno Emplumado), a poet, photographer, feminist, and social activist, offers a remembrance of Che based on his writings, reflections by his family and those who knew him, and the historical record surrounding the Argentinean doctor–turned–world revolutionary. Randall is clearly an admirer of Guevara and comments often here on his morality, integrity, sacrifices, and principles—indeed, she considers Che a figure as principled as Ho Chi Minh and Nelson Mandela. In a beautifully composed text, she points to Che’s leadership abilities so evident in his Cuban experiences yet later absent in the Congo and Bolivia. The author also deals with the relationship between Che and Fidel Castro, concluding that Castro had no role in Guevara’s death. Randall mentions but fails to balance Che’s role as executioner of those condemned as enemies of the Cuban Revolution. VERDICT A well-written, brief reflection on Guevara and his time that will interest historians and social theorists.—Boyd Childress, formerly with Auburn Univ. Libs., AL

redstarWeiss, Mitch & Kevin Maurer. Hunting Che: How a U.S. Special Forces Team Helped Capture the World’s Most Famous Revolutionary. Berkley Caliber: Penguin Group (USA). Jul. 2013. 320p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780425257463. $26.95. HIST

In the fall of 1967, people in the Bolivian countryside lived in fear—the fear of the presence of the legendary Che Guevara, Argentinean revolutionary and hero of Castro’s Cuban Revolution. In an attempt to foment uprisings, Guevara had arrived in poverty-ridden Bolivia to train revolutionaries and lead a peasant movement. Journalists Weiss (Associated Press; coauthor, with Maurer, No Way Out: A Story of Valor in the Mountains of Afghanistan) and Maurer (coauthor, Gentlemen Bastards: On the Ground in Afghanistan with America’s Elite Special Forces) tell the story of special forces major Ralph “Pappy” Shelton who, with the aid of U.S. Army Rangers and CIA operatives, trained Bolivians to track and capture Che. After months of preparation, a Bolivian force overwhelmed and captured Guevara and most of his small band of guerrillas in early October 1967. Che was executed on October 9. This book often reads like gripping fiction as the authors use interviews and firsthand accounts to detail the hunt. What clearly comes through is the futility of Guevara’s Bolivian efforts, his failure to attract recruits and supplies, and the lack of support from the Communist Party in the region. Che and his revolution were doomed—period. VERDICT Another book on Che—and one with a hugely positive recommendation to all interested readers.—Boyd Childress, formerly with Auburn Univ. Libs., AL