Cover image for I, Che Guevara : a novel
I, Che Guevara : a novel
Blackthorn, John.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : W. Morrow & Co., [2000]

Physical Description:
368 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Sometime during the summer of 1999, a mysterious elderly stranger appears in rural towns around Cuba, quietly advocating a new kind of politics he calls the true republic. Old-timers begin to suspect that the stranger, who calls himself Ernesto Blanco, may actually be the martyr Ernesto Che Guevara.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Just as Fidel Castro stuns the world with his announced retirement in favor of democratic elections, an old man turns up in Cuba bearing a physical and philosophical resemblance to Che Guevara. Calling himself Ernesto Blanco, the mysterious stranger inspires Cubans to imagine a new kind of politics, a republic of local self-government, a pure democracy. His suggestion wreaks havoc with the election plans of the former Communist Party and expatriate Cubans in Miami as well as the American business interests salivating over a Cuba without Castro. Frustrated with communism and repulsed by American capitalist democracy, the Cuban people are receptive to Blanco's message of ideal participatory democracy. Blanco's simple campaign across the countryside incites both opposition parties to escalating dirty politics, including assassination attempts on Blanco. Pseudonymous author Blackthorn cynically portrays the democratic political process as practiced in the U.S., including unflattering portrayals of journalists, politicians, and power brokers in this thought-provoking novel about the radicalism of the concept of democracy. --Vanessa Bush

Publisher's Weekly Review

Che Guevara, the iconic guerrilla and revolutionary, is not dead. He was not killed in an ambush in the Bolivian mountains in 1967. Instead, after 32 years on the run in the Third World, he is back in Cuba leading a galvanizing new revolution against both communism and capitalism. Blackthorn (Sins of Our Fathers), a political figure on the international intelligence scene who writes under a pseudonym, has produced a gripping and unusual political thriller of contemporary Cuban politics and Cuban-U.S. relations. As the novel begins, a tired and aged Fidel Castro strikes a deal with the U.S.Ähe will step down and allow free elections in return for U.S. diplomatic recognition and removal of all embargoes and sanctions. The bargain is accepted and the Communist left and the Miami-based (and Mafia-backed) right square off for the presidential election. This is a bitter rivalry of political titans, but soon a new party, the True Republic, led by a white-haired and fiery Che, starts to gain popularity. Known only as Ernesto Blanco, the ex-guerrilla never admits he is Che, but the Cuban people cannot believe otherwise. The left, the right and the fumbling White House all panic at the spreading rumors that Guevara is back, and they try every dirty trick in the book to get rid of himÄmanipulation, treachery, threats, intimidation, bribery, media payoffs and even assassination. But despite desperate measures by the big boys, Che's grassroots drive for populist local self-determination gains unstoppable momentum. A savvy but worn-out TV anchorwoman, a na‹ve State Department analyst and even a hired killer are all spellbound by Che's simple messageÄgovern yourself. Politics may be nothing more than bad theater, but Blackthorn's political drama is compelling and believable, written with style, clarity and conviction. Agent, Philippa Brophy at Sterling Lord Literistic. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Taking as its premise the willing retirement of Fidel Castro, this novel speculates about Cuba's immediate future. As the novel opens, a white-haired gent from the provinces begins to draw attention to his new Cuban freedom movementÄcalled "The Republic." Rumor soon has it that this is Ernesto "Che" Guevara returned to public life decades after his reported death. Bolstered by the efforts of two powerful American womenÄa journalist and an assassinÄhis movement leapfrogs to the world's attention. The percussive pace and energy of an election-year yarn alternates with inward passages as Ernesto deliberates privately about political theories and effective government. The pseudonymous Blackthorn (who is, supposedly, a well-known figure in State Department circles) writes with passion, skill, and a sure knowledge of Cuba. This book will find ardent readersÄbut they may constitute a niche audience. For public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/99.]ÄBarbara Conaty, Library of Congress (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



I, Che Guevara Chapter One The old man sitting at the small table outside the narrow door of the cantina was so still he might have been dead. Even as the lazy whirlwinds of dust stirred around his feet and deposited their tiny particles of brown earth on his white hair and beard, his white long-sleeved shirt and white pants, he did not move. A young boy leaning against the corner of a shaded wall across the square of the dirt-poor village studied the old man. It was early on a Sunday morning in the summer. The planting had been done and few people in the village would be up so soon. Yet, the old man sat, impassive, implacable as the barren earth whipping and drifting around his thin, bare ankles, and the young man watched. This was a stranger and few strangers made their way into this village high up at the end of the narrow mountainous path, barely wide enough to get a cart down to the market, on the rugged southern slopes of the Sierra Maestra mountains in the Granma province of eastern Cuba. The watching boy thought he saw the old man briefly smile beneath his wispy white mustache and imagined that the old man was dreaming of a dark-haired beauty whom he had loved from afar or with whom he had spent a never-ending night of bliss in an age long before the boy himself was even born. The boy could not know that there had, indeed, been a dark-haired beauty in those days, more than one in fact, and some fair-haired ones as well, more than enough to keep an old man dreaming for the rest of his life. But the old man was not thinking of them now. He was thinking of revolution. Presently the large woman they called Conchita pressed her broad face against the narrow front window of the cantina and then threw open the door, pulling the shifting miniature dust storm indoors. She uttered a curse as warm as the morning sun and went for the broom. When she returned, she pushed small wisps of dust outward through the hanging beaded curtain now blocking the sun's rays from the shop. Then, almost on top of him, she saw the old man sitting as still as death at the lone outdoor table. He looked as if he had been quickly molded from white plaster and left on her doorstep overnight as a prank to addle her mind, already confused from the heavy dose of Saturday night rum. She started backward and gave the same soft curse. Across the square, the boy, almost twelve now and learning the ways of the world, suppressed a chuckle. The old man, his back to the door, seemed not to notice, so lost in thought was he. The heavyset woman propped the makeshift bristle broom against the outside wall and carefully eased around the immobile figure, afraid he might have died during the night. If a lost old man had to die somewhere, she muttered, why did it have to be on her doorstep? It would be months or years even before her regular customers came back, afraid that she and her place had been cursed. She sidled around him until she could see his face straight on. His eyes were open. Then, to her horror, his left eye twinkled like a demon's and he winked at her. " Café, por favor? " the old man asked politely. For a long time afterward, when she came to know him well, or at least as well as anyone would know him, she would remember the sound of his voice. It was not deep, but it was... firm. Firm was the only word she could think of. A voice that had given some orders in its day, orders that were used to being obeyed. Yet, it was a soft voice, like an aged rum, a soft voice full of amusement. This old man was amused about something. Maybe life itself. It took a few minutes for her to grind the beans in the antique grinder old even in the days of her grandmother. Then she boiled the water. As she did so, she could not help but wonder who he was and where he came from. Old men didn't just show up on every Sunday morning in this forsaken place. Bandits perhaps, but only ones that could climb like goats. Maybe this old fellow had one of those slippery minds that came and went and he had just wandered off from his children or even grandchildren. Well, at least it would give them something to talk about for a while. No real stranger had shown up here for quite a long time. The water passed through the badly ground beans and makeshift filter and poured out thick as syrup into the small cracked cup. She filled her own larger cup and carried them outside. The fumes of mm thumped against the inside of her head. She wanted to get this old man's story before anyone else. In the other of the two chairs at the single table now sat the young boy. Her nephew Eusebio. Where did he come from? Always sneaking around, peaking into the window of every woman in town, some kind of sex fiend already. The boy never slept. He was leaning forward to hear what the soft, firm voice was saying as she banged the cups down and threw herself down on the creaking third chair she had dragged outside. At first she could not hear. Then it sounded like someone giving a school lecture. "It's going to be your country, you know, and you're going to be responsible for it." She thought she must be dreaming. First a dead old man or at least dead-looking old man. Now he's giving lessons to the children. She would warn the others fast. He's probably one of those queer ones. "You don't understand now, and neither will your parents or the people in this town. But for the first time since the con quistadores slaughtered the Indians, you people are going to have a chance to save yourselves." I, Che Guevara . Copyright © by John Blackthorn . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from I, Che Guevara by John Blackthorn All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.