Audiobook Review: The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto Che Guevara

The Motorcycle Diaries
by Ernesto Che Guevara

Publication date: March 10th 2009
Publisher: HarperAudio (first published May 17th 1992)


Summary:

In January 1952, two young men from Buenos Aires set out to explore South America on “La Poderosa”, the Powerful One: a 500cc Norton. One of them was the 23-year-old Che Guevara. Written eight years before the Cuban Revolution, these are Che’s diaries – full of disasters and discoveries, high drama, low comedy and laddish improvisations.

During his travels through Argentina, Chile, Peru and Venezuela, Che’s main concerns are where the next drink is coming from, where the next bed is to be found, and who might be around to share it. Che becomes a stowaway, a fireman and a football coach; he sometimes falls in love and frequently falls off the motorbike.

Within a decade the whole world would know his name. His trip might have been an adventure of a lifetime – had his lifetime not turned into a much greater adventure. 

Source: Goodreads


Thoughts:

“This is not a story of heroic feats, or merely the narrative of a cynic; at least I do not mean it to be. It is a glimpse of two lives running parallel for a time, with similar hopes and convergent dreams.”

“The Motorcycle Diaries” is a classic, the first-hand account of a young Che Guevara’s trip across South America long before he ended up in the history books. Alongside his friend Alberto, much of their trip was spent hitch hiking and walking, but the intention had been to complete it by motorbike, hence the title.

As the title also suggests, this is basically a diary, an account of everything that happened on the trip. I can understand why people might be interested in this, but to be completely honest, after a few chapters I found it to be a bit… boring.

There are some redeeming features, namely the descriptions of the places that the pair pass through and the occasional interesting insight, but overall I found that this wasn’t the book for me. The writing was basic and a little disjointed which didn’t make for a particularly engaging read. I do also wonder if my lack of knowledge of South America may have contributed.

I suppose, given what Guevara went on to do later in life, I would have probably preferred to have explored that a little more in these pages. Of course, that’s not the fault of the author at the time and it’s unfair to put the blame there, but perhaps a later edition could have included more context, so that the reader is able to imagine how this trip impacted Guevara’s views on on social change.

Overall rating: For me, “The Motorcycle Diaries” wasn’t a particularly interesting travelogue and unfortunately I didn’t like it. I understand the importance and why this is considered a classic to some, but I personally wouldn’t rush to recommend it unless you already have an interest. This was a 1 star read for me.


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