Che, My Brother
June 2017, Polity
On 9 October 1967, Ernesto Che Guevara, Marxist guerrilla leader and hero of the Cuban Revolution, was captured and executed by Bolivian forces. When the Guevara family learned from the front pages that Che was dead, they decided to say nothing. Fifty years on, his younger brother, Juan Martin, breaks the silence to narrate his intimate memories and share with us his views of the character behind one of history's most iconic figures.
Juan Martin brings Che back to life, as a caring and protective older brother. Alongside the many practical jokes and escapades they undertook together, Juan Martin also relates the two extraordinary months he spent with the Comandante in 1959, in Havana, at the epicentre of the Cuban Revolution. He remembers Che as an idealist and adventurer and also as a committed intellectual. And he tells us of their parents - eccentric, cultivated, bohemian - and of their brothers and sisters, all of whom played a part in his political awakening.
This unique autobiographical account sheds new light on a figure who continues to be revered as a symbol of revolutionary action and who remains a source of inspiration for many who believe that the struggle for a better world is not in vain.
Chapter One La Quebrada del Yuro
Chapter Two Havana, January 1959
Chapter Three An eccentric couple, always short of money
Chapter Four As free as the wind
Chapter Five A unique character
Chapter Six The American country with the best food
Chapter Seven Discover the world or change it
Chapter Eight Return to Buenos Aires
Chapter Nine This letter might be the last
Chapter Ten Eight years, three months and twenty-three days
Chapter Eleven Days of liberation
Chapter Twelve Flying to Havana
Chapter Thirteen Until forever, my children...
Chapter Fourteen People are often wrong about the Cubans
Chapter Fifteen What can I do but sow seeds?
Chapter Sixteen Che lives on
Chapter Seventeen A year. Already so long ago.
Appendix 1 Excerpts from the Algiers speech
Appendix II Letter from Archbishop Moure
Juan Martin Guevara lives in Buenos Aires. He spent more than 8 years behind bars under the military junta for his political activities and connection with Che. He went on to found 'Por las huellas del Che', an association dedicated to the legacy of his older brother.
Armelle Vincent is a French journalist based in Los Angeles. She came into contact with Juan Martin, who was at the time the biggest importer of Cuban cigars into Argentina, while writing an article for a French magazine, L'Amateur de Cigare.
"You know how much I admire Che Guevara. In fact, I believe that the man was not only an intellectual but also the most complete human being of our age: as a fighter and as a man, as a theoretician who was able to further the cause of revolution by drawing his theories from his personal experience in battle."
"The discussions that count are those that continue, albeit silently, in thought. In my mind, the discussion with Che has continued for all these years, and the more time passed, the more he has been right. Even today, dying while putting in motion a never ending struggle, he continues, always, to be right"
"The powerful of the earth should take heed: deep inside that T-shirt where we have tried to trap him, the eyes of Che Guevara are still burning with impatience."
"Juan Martin, who at 72 continues to share his brother's youthful ideals, wants him to be remembered as a human being, not as a myth. His book is a powerful and affectionate testimony to the life behind the legend."
"This book is a surprisingly valuable addition to a somewhat variable literature on Che Guevara."
"A memoir by Che Guevara's brother provides acute insight into the revolutionary icon… an insightful and valuable book."
"If you want to delve deeper into how Che the man became Che the icon, and the intimacy of his influence over the boy who knew him as a blood brother rather than a comrade, add this [to your] collection."
"Anyone interested in Che Guevara, the Argentinian socialist and hero of the Cuban revolution, is spoilt for choice when looking for books about his life and exploits. But a new book, Che, My Brother, written by his sibling in the run-up to the fiftieth anniversary of Che's death, is a welcome addition.
The New Yorker