Many would attribute the success of Motor Cycle Diaries to the success of Che himself as a mass leader. But I differ from them, IMO the book still would have been successful even if Che did not become what he had.
In this travelogue, he just records the things he had seen as a young medical college dropout. When I say travelogue everyone would think that this would be the one which is flat nothing interesting to read etc.
This is where Che, the writer, stands out. A wonderful honest description of the important events happened throughout this six month-long journey.
At the start of the book, he mentioned that, ‘the person – Ernesto Guevara, a happy traveler – who took these notes died already’, as he had transformed into a revolutionist. When I read the book, I sensed the revolutionist in him coming into existence during the travel itself.
His account of mine workers in Chile, discrimination against the Indians in Peru, the ignorance of leper patients throughout the journey announces the transformation of the easy rider into a revolutionist.
The descriptions of Inca civilization and their defeat against the Spaniards showed his disapproval of the defeat of indigenous people and their discrimination. When he saw the North American tourists in Machu Picchu, he says, ‘how these people would know the importance of this place and pride of their ancestors as these North Americans are not indigenous or at least semi-indigenous people like most of the Latin Americans’. I don’t think these are the words of an easy rider, I think these kinds of thoughts are the initiation for his revolutionary alignment.
Throughout the book, you can see the life of various countries in 1950s. The livelihood of people was not comfortable those days. Even the communism and communists were banned and in Peru all the mines were of foreign entrepreneurs. By reading these things, you could easily see the reasons of Che to become a comrade.
I felt the book ended in a midway. I expected a more formal finish like the travelogue extended till Che reaches back Argentina. Not sure what stopped him taking notes of things after Alberto decided to stay back. Che would have wanted even this book to end in a revolutionary way.
I am searching for another travelogue of Che, On to the Road again – in which he wrote down the details of his travel to Guatemala and became a marxist politician – ever since I completed this book. But not getting the book anywhere.
It could be due to that book did not become much successful like this one. As in this one Che’s political ideas had never taken a mention. It’s a complete travelogue that noted the important places all over South America during the 1950s period.
It is a nonfiction book, So obviously the entertainment factor would be missing a bit but not completely. I would suggest you to read this book to know about Che and the need of his transformation into a revolutionist, also to know about 1950 South America and a brief history of Inca Empire.
My rating for this book is ★★★★★