Book Talk: Che Guevara, the merchandised revolutionary

Wed Jan 26, 2011 5:34am EST
 
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By Henry Foy

JAIPUR, India (Reuters) - Three decades of reporting in some of the world's bloodiest warzones prepared Jon Lee Anderson well for writing his best-selling biography of Cuban revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara.

Along the way, he battled reputations, myths and deeply-ingrained legends to chronicle the truth.

As part of years of research and interviews in Cuba, Argentina, the U.S. and Russia, Anderson convinced Che's widow, Aleida, to grant him access to a trove of previously unseen material, including Che's private diaries and personal library.

What Anderson produced is heralded as the definitive guide to one of the most well-known yet misunderstood figures of the 21st-century, revered by some, reviled and condemned by others.

Anderson, 54, spoke about Che and his book on the sidelines of the recently-concluded DSC Jaipur Literary Festival, at which the Che biography was feted.

Q: How did you and Che become acquainted?

A: "I wanted to go to war, first as a fighter, but it became increasingly more and more as an observer. War is the defining experience of human nature.

"I had a fascination for those up in the mountains, as it were, beyond the pale, creating an existence for themselves. After traveling the world, twice, I realized there was someone I kept bumping into. And that person was Che.   Continued...