The Fall of Che Guevara: A Story of Soldiers, Spies, and Diplomats

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The Fall of Che Guevara: A Story of Soldiers, Spies, and Diplomats

By Henry Butterfield Ryan
Oxford University Press, 1998
224 pp. $27.50
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In this well-written and exhaustively researched book, based in part on new information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and extensive interviews, a retired Foreign Service officer examines the U.S. response to Che Guevara's insurgency in Bolivia. Ryan places his story within the context of the chapter in U.S. foreign relations that opened with the failed Bay of Pigs invasion and saw, over the six-year period leading up to Guevara's capture in 1967, a dramatic improvement of U.S. counterinsurgency capability. The government's success in defeating Guevara, he argues, ended Havana's efforts to spark a revolutionary uprising in the Western Hemisphere. Ryan contends that Douglas Henderson, the U.S. ambassador to Bolivia, and Ralph Shelton, who headed the Green Beret detachment sent to train the Bolivian army, exercised considerable restraint, preventing the Americanization of the struggle and leaving Guevara, who lacked a good rapport with the local population, isolated and exposed.