In This Review

The African Dream: The Diaries of the Revolutionary War in the Congo
The African Dream: The Diaries of the Revolutionary War in the Congo
By Ernesto Che Guevara, translated by Patrick Camiller
Grove Press, 2001, 304 pp

Between his last public appearance in Havana in March 1965 and his death in Bolivia in late 1967, Che Guevara devoted himself to clandestine efforts to replicate Cuba's revolution in other parts of the world. This extraordinary diary, which was suppressed by the Cuban government until a few years ago because of its unflattering portrayal of the Congolese, records in fine and often humorous detail Guevara's experiences with a Cuban guerrilla force in the eastern Congo between April and November 1965. The account vividly foreshadows idiosyncratic regional factors that featured in the overthrow of Mobutu Sese Seko 30 years later: Laurent Kabila's less than ideal leadership qualities, Tutsi exiles planning a future comeback in neighboring Rwanda, and Congolese fighters who trust in the protective power of witchcraft. The story of the Cubans' inglorious retreat from the region will interest military historians. Of greater interest to most readers, however, are the diary's candid self-portrait of Guevara and its epilogue spelling out the lessons of the Congo experience for Cuba's broader anti-imperialist project.