Che: A Revolutionary Life | A Graphic Biography by Jon Lee Anderson, illustrated by José Hernández [in Booklist]
Jon Lee Anderson’s Che: A Revolutionary Life (1997) is superbly realized in graphic form by Mexican artist José Hernández, who distills Anderson’s lauded, 812-page original into just more than 400 pages of spectacularly illustrated narrative.
Since his 1967 death at 39, Che “has become the most recognized human image in the world,” Anderson writes in his introduction, fueled by Alberto Korda’s iconic photograph. Between Che’s “crassly commercial” ubiquity – on posters, energy drinks, even diapers – and his “authentically mythological” cult status, Anderson attempts to “convey . . . who Che had really been in life.” From his comfortable Argentine birth, medical training, and peripatetic commitment to fighting capitalist U.S. imperialism to his assassination (Anderson’s reporting led to the recovery of Che’s remains in 1997), Anderson and Hernández turn myth into man.
Targeting “a generation more used to expressing resistance with a click on their iPhones than taking to the streets,” author and artist deftly balance Che’s revolutionary idealism with his failures in leadership, his arrogance, his familial inadequacies. Affecting moments are many, including even the origin story of Che’s emblematic beret.