Monday, October 24, 2005

Self-Portrait: The Unpublished Life of Ernesto Che Guevara

“I am neither Jesus Christ nor a philanthropic man, mom, but the opposite. I am determined to fight for my ideals with all the weapons I have to defeat my enemy. I could never die on a cross with resignation.” Ernesto Che Guevara’s polemic and brave words are still waiting to be discovered.

What do we really know about this Latin American revolutionary? What lies underneath the icon and the legend created by the media? A unique opportunity to explore Ernesto Che Guevara’s life comes now by the
hand of the Australian Ocean Press with the first edition of Self-Portrait.

This singular biography is a compilation made with the cooperation of Guevara’s widow Aleida March, who allowed the publishing house to use amazing materials from the family’s private archives.

Self-Portrait shows Che’s life in Che’s own words. It includes unpublished poetry, literary criticism, analysis of world events and letters to friends,
family and historic figures such as Fidel Castro and other outstanding figures of the Cuban Revolution.

The book is divided into 15 chapters that lead us from his childhood to his days as a revolutionary leader. His early journey through Latin America –the same that inspired Walter Salles’s movie “The Motorcycle Diaries"– is amply represented with great photographs, revealing the not previously known artistic talent of this Argentinean patriot.

Several chapters are dedicated to his work in Cuba: the guerrilla war in the mountains, the construction of socialist society in the early 60’s, his relations
with other revolutionary leaders, intellectuals, and journalists. There are also interesting photographs and texts of his African mission.

Launching in Cuba

The Spanish version of Self-Portrait has just been released in Cuba as a tribute on the anniversary of Che's assassination. During the presentation, his
daughter Aleida Guevara spoke about the necessity of using her father's ideas in the struggle against current world problems.

Aleida invited the newer generation to realize that her father was once just a young boy, just like they are now, with lots of dreams to fulfil and courage
enough to fight for them.

The representative of Ocean Press in Cuba, Javier Salado, said that this book is part of a huge publishing endeavour. The objective is to release 19 titles around the fortieth anniversary of Che’s death, in October 2007.

“Although Ocean Press publishes only Spanish and English versions,” said Salado, “agreements with different publishing companies permit the translation of all the books in the collection. That's why most of them can be found in German, Italian, Japanese, etc, for a total of 17 languages.”

Self-Portrait, now in English, is a true master piece. It is an opportunity to see the world through Che's eyes, to hear stories from his own lips, to see some of his personal mail and discover secrets, opinions, criticism, passion, rage and courage.

There is no death in the final pages of the book. No images of his body lying surrounded by the killers. No burials. No statues or monuments. Self-Portrait
invites us to remember Che Guevara with his big optimistic smile, the smoke of a Cuban cigar, and those deep dark eyes full of energy and hope.


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