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Che: A Graphic Biography

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A symbol of counterculture worldwide, Ernesto "Che" Guevara is one of the most, if not the most, recognizable and influential revolutionary figures of the twentieth century. From the pages of history textbooks to silk-screened T-shirts at Urban Outfitters, his mythologized face is positively unavoidable. But what, exactly, does this glorified image stand for? During his A symbol of counterculture worldwide, Ernesto "Che" Guevara is one of the most, if not the most, recognizable and influential revolutionary figures of the twentieth century. From the pages of history textbooks to silk-screened T-shirts at Urban Outfitters, his mythologized face is positively unavoidable. But what, exactly, does this glorified image stand for? During his life, and perhaps even more since his death, Che has elicited controversy and wildly divergent opinions as to who he was and what he represented. In Che: A Graphic Biography, Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón—the graphic duo who made the 9/11 Commission Report understandable in their bestselling The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation and who most recently explained the ongoing war on terror in After 9/11—have come together again to give a real portrait of Ernesto Guevara de la Serna. Following Che from his fabled motorcycle journeys with Alberto Granado as a young medical student to his eventual execution at the hands of Bolivian soldiers and CIA operatives, Che: A Graphic Biography not only provides a concrete time line of his life but also gives a broader understanding of his beliefs, his legacy, and Latin American politics during the mid-twentieth century.


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A symbol of counterculture worldwide, Ernesto "Che" Guevara is one of the most, if not the most, recognizable and influential revolutionary figures of the twentieth century. From the pages of history textbooks to silk-screened T-shirts at Urban Outfitters, his mythologized face is positively unavoidable. But what, exactly, does this glorified image stand for? During his A symbol of counterculture worldwide, Ernesto "Che" Guevara is one of the most, if not the most, recognizable and influential revolutionary figures of the twentieth century. From the pages of history textbooks to silk-screened T-shirts at Urban Outfitters, his mythologized face is positively unavoidable. But what, exactly, does this glorified image stand for? During his life, and perhaps even more since his death, Che has elicited controversy and wildly divergent opinions as to who he was and what he represented. In Che: A Graphic Biography, Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón—the graphic duo who made the 9/11 Commission Report understandable in their bestselling The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation and who most recently explained the ongoing war on terror in After 9/11—have come together again to give a real portrait of Ernesto Guevara de la Serna. Following Che from his fabled motorcycle journeys with Alberto Granado as a young medical student to his eventual execution at the hands of Bolivian soldiers and CIA operatives, Che: A Graphic Biography not only provides a concrete time line of his life but also gives a broader understanding of his beliefs, his legacy, and Latin American politics during the mid-twentieth century.

30 review for Che: A Graphic Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Obviously there are more comprehensive accounts of Che's life out there, but if you like graphic novels and are interested in Che at all, this is definitely worth the read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Armando

    This is a great Graphic biography about Che's life as a revolutionary. it explains his travels into different Latin American countries and it also has some historical information about each country. the illustrations are great and very vivid. I highly recommend this book to any one interested in Che's life.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Caity

    This is a really well done and informative biography. Readers do need to have some familiarity with the history of South America and the Cold War to fully place some events into context but the book describes a lot of what was happening at the time so you only need to know a general history. The artwork is really well done and I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn more about Che Guevara.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Robyn

    A little surprised that no one reviewing this mentioned how horrible the writing is. The author managed to take an interesting story and chop it up into a dry bunch of statements and unemotional dialog. If you want to read a graphic novel about Che Guevara, there are better ones out there.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nativeabuse

    I went in expecting a For Beginners style thing, but I got a book of fantastic beautiful artwork! It is the same quality you would see in any normal comic book. It tells the complete history of che and it does it at a nice pace.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    The history and story of Che Guevera is very interesting, though Jacobson could've left some of the more tedious details out of this book. All in all I found it interesting but not overly engaging because of the writing and art.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ben Truong

    Che: A Graphic Biography is a biographical graphic novel written by Sid Jacobson and illustrated by Ernie Colón and is a passable biography of the revolutionary icon Ernesto "Che" Guevara. Ernesto "Che" Guevara was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, guerrilla leader, diplomat, and military theorist. A major figure of the Cuban Revolution, his stylized visage has become a ubiquitous counter-cultural symbol of rebellion and global insignia in popular culture. The graphic novel Che: A Graphic Biography is a biographical graphic novel written by Sid Jacobson and illustrated by Ernie Colón and is a passable biography of the revolutionary icon Ernesto "Che" Guevara. Ernesto "Che" Guevara was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, guerrilla leader, diplomat, and military theorist. A major figure of the Cuban Revolution, his stylized visage has become a ubiquitous counter-cultural symbol of rebellion and global insignia in popular culture. The graphic novel begins with Guevara's motorcycle journey across southern South America of 1952 and beyond, when Guevara's eyes were opened to the pernicious effects of U.S. domination of third-world economies. It continues to chart Guevara's growing radicalism and his partnership with Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro, while providing a surprisingly thorough survey of South American history, a tale of caudillos and exploiters. Che: A Graphic Biography is written and constructed somewhat well. Throughout, the tone is respectful but not hagiographic, and Jacobson and Colón take pains not to gloss over a signal moment in Guevara's role in the Cuban revolution. The narrative continues to embrace the history and aftermath of Che's storied martyrdom. Colón wonderfully depicted the somewhat choppy and dry narrative. All in all, Che: A Graphic Biography is a somewhat good, albeit cursory look at the Argentine revolutionist – Ernesto Guevara, popularly known as Che.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lillian

    This book has a lot of good information, but could be presented in a more entertaining way, considering that they chose a graphic novel format. Also, I feel like the art could be so much better. Just because it's non-fiction, doesn't mean I don't want great pictures! It would be so much more engaging and easier to follow with better art.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ad Astra

    Reading this was instrumental in my understanding of Che. I knew so little when I began and this has really helped me fit in the pieces and hopefully understand him as a historical reference from here on out.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Except for a few sidetracks that took too long and offered too little (such as the history of every single country in South and Latin America!), it's a solidly crafted, decently compelling bio. If you're interested in Guevara, read it. If not, skip it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    Probably any number of comprehensive profiles out there, but a pretty good overview. Jury's still out in terms of impact on the world stage, but again, probably a good prompter to read more. Outstanding art.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Miguel

    the book is good and the pictures help me understand

  13. 5 out of 5

    Brendan

    The authors are clearly fan boys, so don't expect objectivity. The section on Latin American history is awkward. But I learned some stuff about Che.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rita-Marie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. What a smart little surprise! Enjoyed this unexpected quick read, especially the history of Latin America that is often a footnote.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Mcavoy

    What I can't forgive is the complete lack of sources or any suggestions for further reading. Any biography of Che is going to be controversial and it strikes me as unconscionable to write one directed at young people without providing a bibliography or any indication of where the quotes and facts came from. At the end of the book there is a brief nod to divided opinion with six quotes from various historians and authors. There is an admirably ambitious section devoted to describing, country by What I can't forgive is the complete lack of sources or any suggestions for further reading. Any biography of Che is going to be controversial and it strikes me as unconscionable to write one directed at young people without providing a bibliography or any indication of where the quotes and facts came from. At the end of the book there is a brief nod to divided opinion with six quotes from various historians and authors. There is an admirably ambitious section devoted to describing, country by country, the history of South and Central America circa 1953. But again: how could anyone sum up a country's history in a page? I had a hard time swallowing the hagiography of Eva Peron or the fact that no connection was ever made between political policies and economic collapse. On the other side the appalling machinations of Dulles' CIA were only hinted at. I have personal issues with the glamorization of Che and Ernie Colon's art did nothing to allay them. Even after Che alters his appearance: growing heavy and having his hair pulled out to look bald, we see him pictured slim, virile and with a full head of hair. Did it grow back? To be fair the book does point out Che's superficiality and the events-most disasterous, to some extent, speak for themselves. Criticism aside I admire Jacobson and Colon for the attempt. There is no doubt U.S. citizens are far too ignorant of history south of our borders. I am sorry to say I don't think this attempt materially redresses the issue, but perhaps it may prompt readers to do there own research. It could also be used alongside other texts to represent the powerful mythology that has grown up around Che

  16. 4 out of 5

    Aradweb Aradweb Adil

    Expect the unexpected! In general it fulfill the so called a biography of Ernesto Guevara De La Serna or Che Guevara. Having read this graphic biography it feels like you are reading a brief history of not just about Che but also Latin America, Central America and also Cuba. Started with his maiden motorbike journey through Northern Argentina in 1950 until his serious involvement in Cuban Revolutionary in 1959. His revolutionary movement does not end at Cuba but continues in Congo and ended at Expect the unexpected! In general it fulfill the so called a biography of Ernesto Guevara De La Serna or Che Guevara. Having read this graphic biography it feels like you are reading a brief history of not just about Che but also Latin America, Central America and also Cuba. Started with his maiden motorbike journey through Northern Argentina in 1950 until his serious involvement in Cuban Revolutionary in 1959. His revolutionary movement does not end at Cuba but continues in Congo and ended at Bolivia. Do not expect much of the details of his story along the revolutionary acts as this biography is just as good introduction to the more in-depth of his day which you can read further in Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War and The Bolivian Diary: The authorized edition. The graphics features in this novel is awesome and great.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Noëlibrarian

    I have always been interested in the life and death of Ernesto "Che" Guevara, so when I spotted this in our GN collected I took it home and expected a good story. And I wasn't disappointed -- not with the story, anyway. Although Jacobson keeps stopping the action and backing up to fill in historical facts, Che's life was just so convoluted that recreating it had to take many twists and false starts. One has to have an understanding of why he felt the way he did, and of the histories of the many I have always been interested in the life and death of Ernesto "Che" Guevara, so when I spotted this in our GN collected I took it home and expected a good story. And I wasn't disappointed -- not with the story, anyway. Although Jacobson keeps stopping the action and backing up to fill in historical facts, Che's life was just so convoluted that recreating it had to take many twists and false starts. One has to have an understanding of why he felt the way he did, and of the histories of the many countries in which he tried to foment revolution, or else one is hopelessly lost. Che was a true idealist, and though he doesn't come off as an unsullied hero, he is also far from villainous. My beef, though, was with the illustrations. Ernie Colon left me so very confused from frame to frame; his style is too changeable for my taste. His depictions of Che were inconsistent -- so much so that at times I confused Che with both Raul and Fidel Castro! However, I feel overall that I know much more about the man and his passions than I did before, and that was the point.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Michael Burnam-Fink

    It's only appropriate that the next book after Guerrilla would be a biography of famous guerrilla warrior Che Guevara. But because I'm slacking this summer, it's a comic book. So what's to say? Obviously, this book is just the highlights; a series of semi-connected interludes that cast Che in the best possible light. But it also acknowledges his brutal work as a revolutionary executioner, and the failure of his battles after Cuba. The book ends with a brief essay on the meaning of Che's image in It's only appropriate that the next book after Guerrilla would be a biography of famous guerrilla warrior Che Guevara. But because I'm slacking this summer, it's a comic book. So what's to say? Obviously, this book is just the highlights; a series of semi-connected interludes that cast Che in the best possible light. But it also acknowledges his brutal work as a revolutionary executioner, and the failure of his battles after Cuba. The book ends with a brief essay on the meaning of Che's image in an age of commercial reproduction. The end result is a story of a man who wanted to end injustice in the world, and who used violence to achieve this noble goal with decidedly mixed results. It's like Gonick's Cartoon History of the Universe with Socialist Realist art.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Crckt

    i've been on a little NF graphic novel kick lately. this is the last one that i read. it's a pretty good little summation of ernesto's life, travels and political development. what i appreciated most about this particular title was that it offered a survey of each of the nations in south, and central america and explained how those different cultural and economic landscapes help shift che's evolving political perspective. this can all be read in "the motorcycle diaries" as well, but it's a i've been on a little NF graphic novel kick lately. this is the last one that i read. it's a pretty good little summation of ernesto's life, travels and political development. what i appreciated most about this particular title was that it offered a survey of each of the nations in south, and central america and explained how those different cultural and economic landscapes help shift che's evolving political perspective. this can all be read in "the motorcycle diaries" as well, but it's a detail that might easily be left out in graphic novel form. nothing mind blowing here but if you have a couple of hours to kill, this ain't a bad way to do it. on a side note, most of the other NF graphic novels from this publisher are b&w, this bad boy is in color.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Brenda B

    A decent book for youth as an intro to Che Guevara. Very readable and a quick overview of Che's life and death. Helpful to those who don't know where he started or how he ended up. Fidel and Raul figure only briefly in the story, as it is really centred around Che's life and his other friends and wives who had influence on him. Some superfluous info in the middle about the state of other Latin American countries during the Che area that were unaffected by him, and seem somewhat irrelevant to A decent book for youth as an intro to Che Guevara. Very readable and a quick overview of Che's life and death. Helpful to those who don't know where he started or how he ended up. Fidel and Raul figure only briefly in the story, as it is really centred around Che's life and his other friends and wives who had influence on him. Some superfluous info in the middle about the state of other Latin American countries during the Che area that were unaffected by him, and seem somewhat irrelevant to this story other than to provide context to all of South America to those who don't know much about it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Valerie

    This was my first graphic book! I never knew much about Che. His contribution to the Cuban revolution was his only success and all his other endeavors of revolution were failures. I had no idea he was such a fervent advocate of violent revolution. I wanted to hear more of his ideals and experiences and how/why he formed such a militant outlook on life. I also wanted to hear more details about the effects of American imperialism and Che's fight for the common laborer. All in all, this was an This was my first graphic book! I never knew much about Che. His contribution to the Cuban revolution was his only success and all his other endeavors of revolution were failures. I had no idea he was such a fervent advocate of violent revolution. I wanted to hear more of his ideals and experiences and how/why he formed such a militant outlook on life. I also wanted to hear more details about the effects of American imperialism and Che's fight for the common laborer. All in all, this was an enjoyable and enlightening outline on Che. It made me want to learn more about him.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Holden

    I read a version that was short and contained the beginning of Fahrenheit 451: The Authorized Adaptation by Tim Hamilton. Both were graphic novels. I chose it because it was short, quick, and counts as a biography. I am not a graphic novel fan, however, and found it painful to read the two of them, no matter how short they are. It was interesting to be sure, but I will never read a graphic novel again. I don't like it. I might hand it off to a young, teenage boy who doesn't like to read, but I read a version that was short and contained the beginning of Fahrenheit 451: The Authorized Adaptation by Tim Hamilton. Both were graphic novels. I chose it because it was short, quick, and counts as a biography. I am not a graphic novel fan, however, and found it painful to read the two of them, no matter how short they are. It was interesting to be sure, but I will never read a graphic novel again. I don't like it. I might hand it off to a young, teenage boy who doesn't like to read, but that's it. Warnings: 1 nude picture in Fahrenheit 451 section.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Hans

    Should be called "Che: A brief Introduction". Not bad, touches on some of the major events of Ernesto Guevara's life. Nothing that captures the heart or imagination. He was an idealist and whether or not people consider him a hero or villain the guy definitely lived his convictions. Some thought him a hero because he constantly put others and their needs before his own, a villain because of the Cuban political prisoners that he oversaw their execution. Misguided or not Che was willing to put his Should be called "Che: A brief Introduction". Not bad, touches on some of the major events of Ernesto Guevara's life. Nothing that captures the heart or imagination. He was an idealist and whether or not people consider him a hero or villain the guy definitely lived his convictions. Some thought him a hero because he constantly put others and their needs before his own, a villain because of the Cuban political prisoners that he oversaw their execution. Misguided or not Che was willing to put his life on the line for what he believed was helping the oppressed.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    I didn't have much for expectations when I chose to read this book. In all honesty, I read it because It counted as a biography for one of my classes. I do not enjoy graphic novels and I didn't really enjoy this one either. In my opinion this graphic novel was a little controversial, but that didn't bother me at all, just an observation. I would recommend this book to someone who likes graphic novels. This would be a good book for a reluctant reader and someone who wants a "quick" read. The I didn't have much for expectations when I chose to read this book. In all honesty, I read it because It counted as a biography for one of my classes. I do not enjoy graphic novels and I didn't really enjoy this one either. In my opinion this graphic novel was a little controversial, but that didn't bother me at all, just an observation. I would recommend this book to someone who likes graphic novels. This would be a good book for a reluctant reader and someone who wants a "quick" read. The illustrations in this book are well done and very appealing to the eye.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    This book is a readable account of Che's life. It succinctly summarizes many historical issues. Not very captivating or dramatic, this book reads almost like a report. Informational and fair. pg 26, 27 History of Mexican Territory pg 34, 35 Summary of Cold War sides pg 63, 64 Summary of Bay of Pigs pg 109, 110 Timeline of Che's life

  26. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Gormly

    Entertaining introduction to modern Latin American geopolitics. Offers a clear narrative to frame events like the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis and in general the revolutionary zeitgeist of the 50s and 60s. Simple and clear without being overly reductive. Impartial in tone.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Courtney

    I learned more about Che Guivera from watching youtube videos. The images are attractive, but the events and biographical information is disjointed. To be honest, I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone. I think it would even turn reluctant readers off because it's too simplistic and boring.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Frank

    Balanced and informative overview of Che's life. Showed his idealism and his naivety. More importantly, there's a solid presentation of Latin American history and the geopolitical events that shaped/coincided with his beliefs and actions.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kw Estes

    I agree with many of the other reviews: While informative for those who are unfamiliar with Guevara's life and exploits, the writing is abysmal and unsuitably sedate. For those truly interested in the subject of this man's life, I recommend searching elsewhere.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    Concise, informative, highlights interesting side-pieces such as the Bolivarian Revolutions and the graphical format works well with biography. In part due to the format, Che' mystique makes its appearance, but overall it seems a historically fair work.

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