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Chasing Che: A Motorcycle Journey in Search of the Guevara LegendE

Patrick Symmes

Two hundred and twenty-nine miles due south of Buenos Aires the twin cylinders hesitated once, caught again, hesitated again, and then finally spun down into silence. The motorcycle coasted, ever slower, and came to rest by the side of the long ribbon of shimmery gray asphalt that stretched from one horizon to the next without interruption. The steel in the engine seethed and popped in the quiet of noon on the empty pampas.

This is, bar none, my favorite motorcycle travelogue. I picked it up at a bookstore one night, frankly, because it was on the end of a shelf, front facing outwards, and it caught my eye because it had "motorcycle" in the title. That is the sole reason I bought the book. My old roommate had a passing interest in Che Guevara, enough to make me question how much I really wanted to read a book about him, but I supressed my suspicions and read the book anyways. This was a good decision. This book taught me about Che. This book taught me about motorcycling. This book taught me about guerilla warfare in South America. I learned about culture, about a people that were desperate for a hero, and the hero that rode in hitchhiking after his motorcycle died, carrying stories of leprosy and healing and revolutions and gunshots along with a friend named Alberto Grenada and a tattered diary. Patrick Symmes traces Guevara's footsteps (tire tracks?) through South America, stopping for information in huge metropolises and towns that live and breathe a dream, solely because "El Che" stopped there overnight one evening in 1952. This book is extremely well-written and engaging. If you're interested in history at all, I really can't recommend this book enough.

Buy it from Whitehorse Press