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Hunting Che: How a U.S. Special Forces Team Helped Capture the World's Most Famous Revolutionary

Overview

By the mid-1960s, Guevera had become famous for his outspoken criticism of the United States and his support for armed Communist insurgencies. He had been one of the architects of the Cuban Revolution, and was attempting to repeat his success throughout Latin America. His guerrilla tactics and talent for proselytizing made him a threat to American foreign policy—and when he turned his attention to Bolivia in 1967, the Pentagon made a decision: Che had to be eliminated.

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Overview

By the mid-1960s, Guevera had become famous for his outspoken criticism of the United States and his support for armed Communist insurgencies. He had been one of the architects of the Cuban Revolution, and was attempting to repeat his success throughout Latin America. His guerrilla tactics and talent for proselytizing made him a threat to American foreign policy—and when he turned his attention to Bolivia in 1967, the Pentagon made a decision: Che had to be eliminated.

Major Ralph "Pappy" Shelton was called upon to lead the mission to train the Bolivians. With a hand-picked team of specialists, his first task was to transform a ragtag group of peasants into a trained fighting force who could also gather intelligence. Gary Prado, a Bolivian officer, volunteered to join the newly formed Bolivian Rangers. Joined by Felix Rodriguez, a Cuban exile working for the CIA, the Americans and Bolivians searched for Che. The size of Che's group and when they would strike were unknowns, and the stakes were high. If Bolivia fell, it would validate Che's theories and throw South America into turmoil.

Hunting Che follows the exploits of Major Shelton, Felix Rodriguez, and Gary Prado—the Bolivian Ranger commander who ultimately captured him. The story begins with Che's arrival in Bolivia and follows the hunt to the dramatic confrontation and capture of the iconic leader in the southeastern village of La Higuera. With the White House and the Pentagon secretly monitoring every move, Shelton and his team changed history, and prevented a catastrophic threat from taking root in the West.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An entertaining new perspective." —-Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly
The duo behind 2012’s No Way Out: A Story of Valor in the Mountains of Afghanistan team up again to recount the capture and execution of America’s primary Cold War-era bête noire and the world’s most recognizable rebel: Che Guevara. Along with Fidel Castro, Che helped orchestrate the Cuban Revolution and the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista in 1959. His efforts would make him an idol for 1960s left-wing youth. But when Che and his guerillas turned their attention in the mid-’60s to bringing communism to U.S.-backed Bolivia, the United States decided enough was enough. A U.S. military Special Forces team was sent south to guide a battalion of Bolivian soldiers through a four-month-long crash course in fighting the insurrection. Weiss (a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist) and Maurer (coauthor of No Easy Day) focus primarily on the American operation to take down Che, detailing the tactics and personnel involved, as well as the dramatic play-by-play leading up to the rebel’s execution. The authors are palpably unsympathetic to Che and his cause, and they take a novelist’s license in recreating dialogue and inner thoughts. Fans of by-the-book nonfiction will be skeptical of the docudrama prose, but for more tolerant readers, this offers an entertaining new perspective. Agent: Scott Miller, Trident Media Group. (July 2)
Library Journal
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
Kirkus Reviews
Much like "the day we got Bin Laden," the devil is in the details in this military procedural about one of the few wins of Cold War–era spycraft. Investigative journalist Weiss (No Way Out, 2012, etc.) and co-author Maurer apply many of the same fast-paced stylistic techniques that made a best-seller of Maurer's collaboration with Navy SEAL Team 6's Mark Owen (No Easy Day, 2012). This nonfiction thriller about the manhunt and subsequent execution of radical icon Che Guevara (1928–1967) focuses on his final months fostering a revolution in Bolivia. The authors are fortunate to have an extraordinary cast of characters on which to hang their story. By far the most fascinating is Maj. Ralph "Pappy" Shelton, leader of the Green Berets, whose compassionate ideas about counterinsurgency were decades before their time. He was in country to train the Bolivian army to find, trap and capture Guevara's small army of soldiers. His right-hand man was Gary Prado Salmon, noble commander of the wildly incompetent Bolivian Rangers recruited for the task. The whole affair was crucial to the successful near-dictatorship of President René Barrientos Ortuno, whose government was stealing millions in U.S. aid. The spooks working behind the scenes were led by two Cuban exiles–turned–CIA agents: Gustavo Villoldo, whose father committed suicide at Castro's command, and Félix Rodríguez, who successfully infiltrated Cuba in advance of the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion. Blatantly pitched to armchair warriors and airport bookstores, the book is indeed exciting to read. Whether readers buy into the romantic revisionism of the cult of Che or take the authors' position that he was an uncommon thug matters little until the finale. Surprisingly, the coda is more humanizing of its antagonist than readers might expect. A slam-bang military drama whose unambiguous worldview overshadows the larger questions raised by the facts at hand.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781452661704
  • Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/2/2013
  • Format: MP3 on CD
  • Edition description: MP3 - Unabridged CD
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Mitch Weiss is a Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative journalist for the Associated Press. In 2003, he was assigned to a series that uncovered the longest string of atrocities carried out by a U.S. fighting unit in the Vietnam War. In recognition of the series “Buried Secrets, Brutal Truths,” which led to an investigation by the Pentagon, he was awarded the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. A series he wrote about corrupt real estate appraisers won several national awards in 2009. He also was part of a team of AP reporters that won a George Polk Award in 2010 for their coverage of the British Petroleum oil-spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
 
Kevin Maurer is the author and coauthor of several books, including No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden. Covering special operations forces for nearly a decade, he has been embedded with the U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan numerous times and spent ten weeks with a team of Green Berets in Afghanistan in 2010. He has been embedded with American soldiers in Iraq, East Africa, and Haiti.
 

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