Book Review – The Motorcycle Diaries

One mention of Guevara’s name evokes images of “revolution”, “rebellion”, “guerilla warfare”, “youth”, and “communism”. But don’t expect your imagination of these images to be depicted in words in this book. I first came to know about ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ when I watched Brazilian director Walter Salles’ dramatization of the book with the same name featuring acclaimed Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal and his Argentine co-actor Rodrigo De la Serna. I was driven to watch the movie when I first listened to its beautifully composed soundtrack ‘Apertura’ by Gustavo Santaolalla on one of my friend’s music system. Although he had been listening to this soundtrack since quite sometime, he had no idea about the movie!
As the title of the book suggests, the text is actually translated out of the tour diary of Ernesto Guevara’s journey through the Latin America of the early 50s with his friend Alberto. It narrates a youthful adventure of the young men. Ernesto was a medical student back then in Argentina & his friend was a bio-chemist. The trip was partly on a large run down bike and partly through hitch hiking across the vast and diverse South American continent.

Not delving further into the details of the book, I must say that it’s more of a travel diary. If you have even been ‘wee’ bit curious about South America- its culture, its people, the food, the drinks, the nature, the description of ancient ruins/temples, the hardships of travelling on a limited budget with limited planning, the “human” side of people and the youth and the learning phase of Che Guevara then grab a copy of this book and relish it with all you can. The language is pretty simple and you’ll glide through the pages once you form an image of the descriptions written by Guevara. The things he witnessed in this tour was what made Guevara what he is famous for as it helped him gain a greater understanding of the problems faced by the people on his continent. It brought him closer to the Latin people.

All in all I really enjoyed reading this book. The book is better than the movie as the narration is more detailed. There are some events that were glorified in the movie to make it an important part of the plot. However, watch the movie for its amazing visuals and some good acting!

The review on Goodreads:


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