Ernesto "Che" Guevara's thoughts on systemic poverty in Latin America and the necessity of a borderless, united mestizo revolution against neo-colonial domination are well known. His historic efforts on behalf of Marxism and his leadership in the Cuban Revolution have been documented extensively. But before "Che" rose to prominence on the international scene, he was just an ordinary Argentine med student with an interest in travel. In The Motorcycle Diaries, young Ernesto chronicles his year-long trek across the continent of his people with his friend and fellow doctor, Albert Granado. As Ernesto grows up into "Che", so too does his voice grow up. The travelogue is smoothly and competently narrated by Bruno Gerardo with a clear but flavorful Latin accent. The place names, assorted slang terms, and chapter titles are all faithfully rendered in Spanish, which gives a strong feel of the regional variety of dialects.
Beginning in Buenos Aires, they traverse the entire east coast, opening themselves to the delight and disaster of relying on the kindness of strangers. Guevara is relatively naïve about socioeconomic concerns outside of his personal needs at the beginning of the diary, and Gerardo interprets the author's vast series of minor complaints with a terrifically bratty attitude. The two friends are also dependent on their motorcycle, rather ironically nicknamed "The Mighty One", which gives out after a dozen minute and daily repairs in only a few hundred miles, before they even reach Chile. Over the course of the writing and the broadening of the author's horizons, Gerardo seamlessly transfers the narrow awe of Guevara's personal irritations to the much larger and more familiar awe of Guevara's righteous, political indignation.
Gerardo also does the voice work for Guevara's more widely read classics, The Bolivian Diary and Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War, so he has had ample time to step into this historic personage. But as an introduction to the man who would later be simply known as "Che" his personality, his roots, his view of the world The Motorcycle Diaries is a priceless cultural artifact that Bruno Gerardo narrates with compelling flair. Megan Volpert