Che on My Mind

Duke University Press Books
History, Nonfiction (Adult)
Pub Date
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Che on My Mind is an impressionistic look at the life, death, and legacy of Che Guevera by the renowned feminist poet and activist Margaret Randall. Recalling an era and this figure, she writes "I am old enough to remember the world in which [Che] lived. I was part of that world, and it remains a part of me." Randall participated in the Mexican student movement of 1968 and eventually was forced to leave the country. She arrived in Cuba in 1969, less than two years after Che's death, and lived there until 1980. She became friends with several of Che's family members, friends, and compatriots. In Che on My Mind she reflects on his relationships with his family and fellow insurgents, including Fidel Castro. She is deeply admiring of Che's integrity and charisma and frank about what she sees as his strategic errors. Randall concludes by reflecting on the inspiration and lessons that Che's struggles might offer early-twenty-first-century social justice activists and freedom fighters.
Margaret Randall, born in New York in 1936, is a feminist poet, writer, photographer, and social activist. After living in Mexico, Cuba, and Nicaragua since the 1960s, she attempted to return to the United States in 1984. Randall had inadvertently lost her U.S. citizenship when she acquired the citizenship of her Mexican husband in 1967. The U.S. government refused to reinstate her citizenship after finding opinions expressed in some of her books to be "against the good order and happiness of the United States." The Center for Constitutional Rights defended Randall, and many writers and others joined in an almost five-year battle for reinstatement of her citizenship. She won her case in 1989. In 1990 she was awarded the Lillian Hellman and Dashiell Hammett grant for writers victimized by political repression. Randall is the author of more than eighty books, including the oral histories Cuban Women Now, Sandino's Daughters, and When I Look into the Mirror and See You: Women, Terror, and Resistance. A documentary, The Unapologetic Life of Margaret Randall, was released in 2001. Randall lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Advance Praise

"Thoughtfully exploring the complex and contested record of the life and work of Che Guevara, Margaret Randall—with, as she says, 'the intuition of a poet'—presents a compelling personal meditation on a figure who has inspired legions of people, young and old, throughout the world, who struggle for a more just and decent human existence."—Noam Chomsky

"In Che on My Mind, the poet Margaret Randall, who was one of the founders of the influential sixties bilingual journal El Corno Emplumado (The Plumed Horn), assesses Che Guevara's enduring influence while confronting her own doubts and uncertainties over his justification of violence and armed struggle. She asks whether we can admire Guevara's commitment and generosity of spirit and still disagree with war as a strategy. Acknowledging that her own attitudes to Che have changed with age, her book is a frank assessment of Che's failures of judgment as well as of his charisma, and of his contradictory status as both saint and cowboy."—Jean Franco, author of Cruel Modernity

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