I, Che Guevara: A Novel

I, Che Guevara: A Novel

by John Blackthorn


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061718571
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 12/02/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.96(d)

About the Author

John Blackthorn is the pseudonym of a political figure whose name is known in international capitals and intelligence circles. He has extensive experience in international politics—especially U.S., Russian, and Cuban relations—as well as an insider's knowledge of intelligence methods and operations.

Read an Excerpt

The old man sitting at the small table outside the narrow door of the cantina was so still he might have been dead. Even as the lazy whirl-winds of dust stirred around his feet and deposited their tiny particles of brown earth on his white hair and beard, his white long-sleeved shirt and white pants, he did not move. A young boy leaning against the comer of a shaded wall, across the square of the dirt-poor village studied the old man. It was early on a Sunday morning in the summer. The planting had been done and few people in the village would be up so soon. Yet, the old man sat, impassive, implacable as the barren earth whipping and drifting around his thin, bare ankles, and the young man watched. This was a stranger and few strangers made their way into this village high up at the end of the narrow mountainous path, barely wide enough to get a cart down to the market, on the rugged southern slopes of the Sierra Maestra mountains in the Granma province of eastern Cuba. The watching boy thought he saw the old man briefly smile beneath his wispy white mustache and imagined that the old man was dreaming of a dark-haired beauty whom he had loved from afar or with whom he had spent a never-ending night of bliss in an age long before the boy himself was even bom. The boy could not know that there had, indeed, been a dark-haired beauty in those days, more than one in fact, and some fair-haired ones as well more than enough to keep an old man dreaming for the rest of his life. But the old man was not thinking of them now. He was thinking of revolution.

Presently the large woman they called Conchita pressed her broad face against the narrow front window of the cantina and then threw open the door, pulling the shifting miniature dust storm indoors. She uttered a curse as warm as the morning sun and went for the broom.When she returned, she pushed small wisps of dust outward through the hanging beaded curtain now blocking the sun's rays from the shop. Then, almost on top of him, she saw the old man sitting as still as death at the lone outdoor table. He looked as if he had been quickly molded from white plaster and left on her doorstep overnight as a prank to addle her mind, already confused from the heavy dose of Saturday night rum. She started backward and gave the same soft curse. Across the square, the boy, almost twelve now and learning the ways of the world, suppressed a chuckle. The old man, his back to the door, seemed not to notice, so lost in thought was he.

The heavyset woman propped the makeshift bristle broom against the outside wall and carefully eased around the immobile figure, afraid he might have died during the night. If a lost old man had to die somewhere, she muttered, why did it have to be on her doorstep, It would be months or years even before her regular customers came back, afraid that she and her place had been cursed. She sidled around him until she could see his face straight on. His eyes were open. Then, to her horror, his left eye twinkled like a demon's and he winked at her. "Cafe, por favor?" the old man asked politely.

For a long time afterward, when she came to know him well, or at least as well as anyone would know him, she would remember the sound of his voice. It was not deep, but it was ... firm. Firm was the only word she could think of. A voice that had given some orders in its day, orders that were used to being obeyed. Yet, it was a soft voice, like an aged rum, a soft voice full of amusement. This old man was amused about something. Maybe life itself.
It took a few minutes for her to grind the beans in the antique grinder old even in the days of her grandmother. Then she boiled the water. As she did so, she could not help but wonder who he was and where he came from. Old men didn't just show up on every Sunday morning in this forsaken place. Bandits perhaps, but only ones that could climb like goats. Maybe this old fellow had one of those slippery minds that came and went and he had just wandered off from his children or even grandchildren. Well, at least it would give them something to talk about for a while. No real stranger had shown up here for quite a long time.

The water passed through the badly ground beans and makeshift filter and poured out thick as syrup into the small cracked cup. She filled her own larger cup and carried them outside. The fumes of rum thumped against the inside of her head. She wanted to get this old man's story before anyone else.

In the other of the two chairs at the single table now sat the young boy. Her nephew Eusebio. Where did he come from? Always sneaking around, peaking into the window of every woman in town, some kind of sex fiend already. The boy never slept. He was leaning forward to hear what the soft, firm voice was saying as she banged the cups down and threw herself down on the creaking third chair she had dragged outside. At first she could not hear. Then it sounded like someone giving a school lecture.

"It's going to be your country, you know, and you're going to be responsible for it."

She thought she must be dreaming. First a dead old man or at least dead-looking old man. Now he's giving lessons to the children. She would warn the others fast. He's probably one of those queer ones.

"You don't understand now, and neither will your parents or the people in this town.

Copyright 2000 by Art Tarmon, Inc.

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I, Che Guevara 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
daschaich on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Che's Dead: Although this book serves as an enjoyable critique of the modern political system in America and throughout much of the world, I was extremely disappointed by the use of Che Guevara as the spokesman for the author's political vision. Upon reflection, it seems to me that the author only used Che in order to increase sales of his book - the political philosophy that the book extols has little in common with that of Che.The basic background is this: following defeats in the Congo and Bolivia, Che Guevara gives up revolution and wanders around Latin America for 32 years, finally returning to Cuba with a new non-violent revolutionary philosophy. This new philosophy is based on the concept of the polis - the autonomous Greek city-state - and focuses mainly on increased local control for loosely-confederated communities. "Blackthorn" traces the development of the idea in this way: Greece ("Pericles or somebody else"); Rome; Machiavelli; Thomas Jefferson. I cannot accept Che (probably the most radical leader of the Cuban revolution) ignoring the innate injustice of the sketchy philosophy which is presented in the story.What the author appears to ignore is the fact that these city-states upon which this "true republic" is based are just as unequal and oppressive as modern capitalist societies - maybe more so. In the most democratic polis, only the rich males were allowed to choose their leaders, with all women and foreigners viewed as sub-human. Pericles himself, the founder of this ideal (according to Blackthorn) was the original genocidal demagogue, who launched wars for an Athenian empire and exterminated native Mediterrranean populations to make way for Greek colonies. Other city-states were ruled by dictators, absolute monarchs, or even theocracies. This political form does nothing to strike at the injustice that Che Guevara gave his life to eliminate. I won't address Machiavelli's views, the corruption and oppressive class nature of the Roman Republic, or Jefferson's life as a slave-owning aristocrat.Had this book created a new character to present Blackthorn's views, it would have received a much higher rating from me - I honestly enjoyed the author's jabs at our modern political systems. As it is, I see Blackthorn using (and abusing) the memory of a beloved freedom fighter in order to make money, and I can barely refrain from giving him the lowest possible rating.Don't buy this book if you are interested in learning about Che Guevara or already know about his life and beliefs. If, however, you simply want to chuckle about auction-block politics - go ahead and read it. Just don't associate the "true republic" with Che.
Lafjord More than 1 year ago
"I, Che Guevara" is a very entertaining read for those who have studied Che, and also for those who are new to him. I was in my local B&N and just saw the title sitting on a table. Not having heard of it before, and just having come off reading Jon Lee Anderson's Che bio, I flipped through the pages. The plot of an old man coming to a small town who claims to be the now-40 years deceased Ernesto "Che" Guevara seened fascinating to me. I mean, really, who, out of all the people who have studied Che, hasn't at least once thought to themselves "What if Che had lived?" After flipping through the pages, I flipped to the back to learn a little about the author. "John Blackthorn is the pseudonym of a political figure whose name is known in international capitals and intelligence circles. He has extensive experience in international politics-especially U.S., Russian, and Cuban relations-as well as an insider's knowledge of intelligence methods and operations." Well, that sealed the deal for me. Rarely do I buy a book so impulsively, but I'm glad I did. To anyone who doesn't normally read fiction, like me, this is worth your time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is the first fictional work to address the real problem of what happens when Castro leaves office. The insertion of Che into the mix with his 'true republic' is a brilliant piece of literary skill. I highly recommend this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
A terrific political thriller that examines not only life after Castro, but also the possibility of life after the demise of the two major political parties in America. A fresh and entertaining book about the past, and the future!