ERNESTO CHE GUEVARA is profoundly radicalized when, as a young doctor traversing Latin America for the second time, a journey he later describes in Latin America Diaries, he witnesses first the Bolivian Revolution, and then, in Guatemala, the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Jacobo Árbenz by U.S.-backed forces. After escaping to Mexico, Guevara meets up with a group of Cuban revolutionaries exiled in Mexico City led by Fidel Castro and immediately enlists in their planned expedition to overthrow Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. The Cubans nickname him "Che," a popular form of address in his native Argentina. The group sets sail for Cuba on November 25, 1956, aboard the yacht Granma, with Che as the group's doctor. Within several months, Fidel appoints him a commander of the Rebel Army, though he also continues to minister to wounded guerrilla fighters and captured Batista soldiers.
After General Batista flees Cuba on January 1st, 1959, Che becomes one of the key leaders of the new revolutionary government. He is also the most important representative of the Cuban Revolution internationally, heading numerous delegations and earning a reputation as a passionate and articulate spokesperson for Third World peoples. In April 1965, Che leaves Cuba to lead a guerrilla mission of some 200 Cuban soldiers to support the revolutionary struggle in Congo, a mission he recounts in Congo Diary. The book is characterized by Che's brutal, disciplined honesty, as he recounts the succession of failures and dead ends that characterized the mission, analyzing each one, and never losing sight of his innate optimism and clarity of mission. After returning to Cuba in December 1965, Che prepares another guerrilla force, this time to Bolivia, where he arrives in November 1966 with a small guerrilla force, intending to challenge the country's military dictatorship. He is captured there by U.S.-trained counterinsurgency forces on October 1967, and murdered in cold blood the next day. His Bolivian diaries were later edited and published as The Bolivian Diary.