Che's Afterlife: The Legacy of an Image


Summary

In life, Che Guevara dedicated himself to the unification of Latin America through Marxist revolution. In the forty years since his death, Guevara remains a legendary figure much examined in film, literature, and academia. But unlike other historic insurgents, Guevara has become a pop culture icon. CHE’S AFTERLIFE: The Legacy of an Image takes the reader on a fascinating journey from the birth of Alberto Korda Diaz's famous 1960 black and white photo of Che Guevara, to the present day, where the image can be found everywhere—from Gisele Bünchden’s bikini on an Italian catwalk to a banner behind Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.

The first-ever book on the history of  Korda’s photo, CHE’S AFTERLIFE explores how a single two-tone image has sustained Guevara as both an enduring symbol of resistance and a powerful marketing machine. Casey takes us from Cuba to Buenos Aires to Sydney: seeking out the story behind the photo’s accidental birth in 1960, reviewing some of the myths surrounding its passage into the world and examining what Che’s image means today. Along the way Casey reveals how Fidel Castro promoted an appealing image of Cuba with the photo; and how it rose to prominence after Guevara’s death in 1967, when, with the help of a cast of characters including Jean-Paul Sartre, renegade Italian publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, and Andy Warhol, it became an icon of student rebellion in Paris, Milan, and Berkeley. As Casey travels across Latin America, we see how the image is used by governments, dissenters, and for commercial gain by the tourism industry. Venturing into cyberspace, we begin to understand how Che's picture has become not just an icon, but a brand determined by the information economy, promoting products from T-shirts to vodka to baby clothes. Casey reveals how Che’s image—through its many iterations and varied connotations—provides a reflection of how we view ourselves.

 

Listen to Michael Casey discuss his book at Silver Chair Bookstore and on KPFK Radio Los Angeles

 

Selected by Michiko Kakutani as one of the Top 10 Books of 2009 in the New York Times Holdiay Gift Guide.

Rights

North American publisher: Vintage

The Marsh Agency, Foreign Rights Management

Jessica Woollard (jessica@marsh-agency.co.uk) for the United Kingdom

Camilla Ferrier (Camilla@marsh-agency.co.uk) for Arabic World, Bulgaria, China, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Italy*, Japan, The Netherlands**, Russia, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam

Jemma McDonagh (Jemma@marsh-agency.co.uk) for Baltic States, Brazil, Croatia, Czech Rupublic, France, Greece, Iceland, Italy**, Korea, The Netherlands*, Poland, Romania, Scandinavia, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovak Republic, Turkey

*Fiction
**Non-fiction

Foreign rights sold: Italian to Feltrinelli (by Random House); Russian to AST (by Random House); Korean to Sapiens 21

Film rights: Gillian MacKenzie (gmackenzie@gillianmackenzie.com)

 

Reviews

 

Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times calls it "fascinating...bracing and keenly observed.”

Ada Hutchinson of The Weekly Dig raves, “Casey comes away with as many enthralling tales of simulacrum as he can find people to tell them.”

Biblioklept pronounces it “well-researched, well-written, and lots of fun.”

Hanna Brem of Digital City proclaims, “Che’s Afterlife is worth the read for its historical clarity, Casey’s vivid storytelling, and his adroit analysis of the multilayered meaning of photography as both a vehicle for and a destroyer of ideals.”