980: Che on My Mind by Margaret Randall

by Gerard


980.035092: Randall, Margaret. Che on My Mind. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2013. 138 pp. ISBN 978-0-8223-5578-6.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 900: History and Geography
  • 980: History of South America
  • 980.03: 1830-1999
  • 980.035: 1950-1959
  • +092: Biography

Margaret Randall’s Che on My Mind is a history of South America, citizen rebellion, and deep-felt loss. Randall moved to Mexico in the early 1960s for a change in scenery from the McCarthyism still brewing in the US, married a Mexican poet, and became enamored with the culture there. While she gets to Cuba only after Che Guevara is assassinated, her relationship with Che’s sister and her own past inform her story. It is a story of reflection, of revolution, and of redemption.

Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s journey started as an academic and a doctor. During the 1940s and 1950s, he journeyed around South America touring the countryside, helping the disadvantaged, and seeing firsthand how the lower classes lived. He took part in the 1954 Guatemalan coup d’état, the Cuban Revolution, and even the Simba Rebellion in the Congo. But, after each struggle to change the world, he had to become more elusive, more guerilla-like. His death in 1967 was a critical blow to revolutionary activities across the region.

There is a bit of problem here of subject deification. Randall openly decries US-style democracy and believe that full Marxist revolution is the only way to political and social liberation. Her source material is, however, useful and insightful. She gathers together reminisces, letters, and creative writing from the revolutionary period to show the atmosphere of the time. Her own subjective injections work with prose as a whole, but definitely move this book out of the arena of true academic histories. She looks at both Che’s life and how other writers have placed Che’s life in the context of the region, and for that combined perspective, this one was a very interesting read.