The private life of political icon is now revealed in a unique picture-led biography
Thursday, October 16, 2003. by Tim Ingham (Metro Magazine)
"Che and the Cuban revolution which he served alongside Fidel Castro has inspired people all over the world. Che?s death made him a martyr for our common cause. This book reminds us of what he believed and worked for. It is a must for all socialists." - Tony Benn, legendary Labour MP
Che Guevara?s image was always destined to be an iconic one; the beret, the perfect rascal?s facial hair and the infamous cigar are all conducive to his rough-and-ready film-star charm.
Guevara?s look has contributed greatly to longevity of his allure (if he looked like John Prescott, his poster might now be less of a student fixture). So when a biography is picture-led, as is Hilda Barrio and Gareth Jenkins? ?The Che Handbook?, its authors can really go to town.
The pair?s biography introduces readers to Guevara the boy, Guevara the statesman and Guevara the legend, through an extensive collection of images. Long before he became a T-shirt emblem, of course, Guevara did a few things to change the world, and his revolutionary credentials are well covered. But Barrio and Jenkins concentrate on the whole spectrum of Guevara?s existence, both public and personal.
To this end, space is devoted both to classic images as Guevara meeting the first man in space ? Yuri Gagarin, in Moscow in 1964 ? and little-known candid shots like the one of him taking a snooze (left).
Alongside the insights into the time Guevara spent with family and friends, the book?s biggest revelation is its subject?s wit.
?I found him smoking a cigar about a foot-and-a-half long,? his secretary recalls in one of the quotes features. ?With a roguish smile he told me: Don?t worry about the doctors. I?m obeying their orders ? just one cigar a day. No more, no less.?
Like many icons, the most fascinating aspects of Guevara do not turn out to be his much-discussed political movements, but rather Guevara the joker, Guevara the carer and, ultimately, Guevara the man.
?The Che Handbook? by Hilda Barrio and Gareth Jenkins is published by MQ Publications Limited and can be purchased at the Cuba Directo website.