This was the "scientific" discovery that Ernesto Guevara had been destined for, the culmination of a search that had been with his work in medicine. Treating individuals' illnesses had never been his real interest; his motivation had always been with medicine, so it had become with politics. Searching, crossing solutions off the list of possibilities as he went—reformism, democracy, elections—he had found Marx, then Guatemala, then Cuba and the realization that the cure to society's ills was Marxism-Leninism and that guerrilla warfare was the means to achieve it.
Chapter 24, "These Atomic Times", p. 482
Chapter 24, "These Atomic Times", p. 483
One sentence to crystallize Che:
Julia found Che to be a complex and fascinating man with a mean streak.
Chapter 24, "These Atomic Times", p. 492
Che said before battle:
"...from this moment on, consider yourselves dead. Death is the only certainty in this; some of you may survive, but all of you should consider what remains of your lives as borrowed time."
Chapter 25, "Guerrilla Watershed", p. 518
Che was extremely critical of the Western Communist parties for adopting a "peaceful parliamentary strategy of power." Russell wrote that Che felt this would "deliver the working class bound hand and foot over to the ruling class."
Chapter 25, "Guerrilla Watershed", p. 519
Rojo argued that the revolution had worked in Cuba because the Americans had been caught off guard. That day had passed, and the United States and its regional allies were now on the alert. Che conceded the point but, as always, refused to accept that Cuba's success was an exception that could not be repeated elsewhere.
Chapter 25, "Guerrilla Watershed", p. 526
Granado recalled one conversation with Che in which he pointed out what he believed was the fundamental difference between them. Che could look through a sniper scope at a soldier and pull the trigger, knowing that by killing him he was "saving 30,000 future children from lives of hunger," whereas when Granado looked through the scope, he saw a man with a wife and children.
Chapter 25, "Guerrilla Watershed", p. 541
Che's habit of referring to the people, the workers, as bits of machinery affords a glimpse of his emotional distance from individual reality. He had the coldly analytical mind of a medical researcher and a chess player. The terms he employed for individuals were reductive, while the value of their labor in the social context was idealized, rendered lyrically. It was a conceptual mode that had parallels in his life. Che had found meanings in his identity as a revolutionary within the large family of socialism. Fraternal guerrilla life was the crucible of his own transformation. The Communist consciousness he had attained was an elusive, abstract, and even unwanted state of being for many people, however—even those who believed themselves to be socialist and who happily echoed his shout, "Freedom or Death." Willingness to sacrifice material comforts and life itself for the cause was a state of mind most men and women had not achieved, and they probably had little interest in trying. Also, of course, the happy global socialist fraternity of which he spoke was in fact a house bitterly divided.
Chapter 26, "The Long Good-Bye", p. 572
He indicted Lenin—who had introduced some capitalist forms of competition into the Soviet Union as a means of kick-starting its economy in the 1920s—as the "culprit" in many of the Soviet Union's mistakes, and, while reiterating his admiration for and respect toward the culprit, he warned, in block letters, that the U.S.S.R. and Soviet bloc were doomed to "return to capitalism." . . . With the passage of time, of course, Che would be proved right.
Chapter 28, "No Turning Back", p. 663
Che's unshakable faith in his beliefs was made even more powerful by his unusual combination of romantic passion and coldly analytical thought. This paradoxical blend was probably the secret of the near-mystical stature he acquired, but it seems also to have been the source of his inherent weaknesses—hubris and naïveté. Gifted at perceiving and calculating strategy on a grand scale, yet at a remove, he seemed incapable of seeing the small, human elements that made up the larger picture, as evidenced by his disastrous choice of Masetti to lead the Argentine foco. There, and in Cuba, the Congo, and Bolivia, the men he believed in consistently failed him, and he consistently failed to understand how to alter the fundamental nature of others and get them to become "selfless Communists." But, along with his mistakes, what is most remembered about Che is his personal example, embodying faith, willpower, and sacrifice.
"Epilogue: Dreams and Curses", p. 725