This reprinted, though not newly translated, edition gathers together Che Guevaras long essay “Guerrilla Warfare,” and two shorter pieces, “Guerrilla Warfare: A Method,” and the “Message to the Tricontinental.” The texts here are not just word-for-word transcriptions of previous editions, but apparently facsimile versions; thus there are two different typefaces, suggestive of two different sources. Only the editor’s brief preface is new. There are three possible rationales for such a reprinting; only the final one could interest either scholars or revolutionaries.

First, it is surely no accident that the University of Nebraska Press, which is now releasing this slim volume, has recently let go of the rights to the much superior volume edited by Brian Loveman and Thomas Davies, also called Guerrilla Warfare (Wilmington, Del., 1997), which is now in its third edition from Scholarly Resources. The Loveman and Davies volume gathers together several of Che Guevara’s writings along with more than half a dozen case studies written by the two editors that explore how well Che Guevara’s ideas apply to insurgencies in Latin America after 1960.

A second reason for this edition might be that obsessed as we decimalized folk are with decade-by-decade progress, this work roughly commemorates, whether solemnly or otherwise, the thirtieth anniversary of the revolutionary’s death in Bolivia. But simple observance is, again, no contribution to scholarship. This is mostly because the texts themselves have been around for some time now, and during the 1960s the first two were heavily used and dog-eared by revolutionaries in one field and by counterinsurgents in the next. Much of the reading is tactical and dry, albeit clear, with a very strong pragmatic element that basically tells readers how to go about the grunt-like business of doing insurgency well and effectively. When you read the section on women in revolution (pp. 92-94), though, you can almost use it to carbon 14-date Che Guevara’s ideas as those slightly-progressive-but-not-yet-really-feminist ones of the early 1960s. They would surely have raised the ire of many female insurgents in the late 1970s, so radically had women’s roles in insurgency changed by then.

Only a third reason can possibly justify a new edition here: Marc Becker’s own 30-years-after-the-fact reflections in the preface. In my view he is justified in saying that the documents reproduced in this volume are now mostly of historical interest (viz. the comments on women). Becker also reasonably points to the ethnic dimensions of struggles (q.v., Chiapas and the Ejército Zapatista de Liberatión Nacional) that Che Guevara ignored at the time. But, then again, we hardly needed events in the 1990s to provide such insight, for even in the 1960s what occurred in both Peru and Guatemala strongly pointed to ethnic relations as obstacles (although not insurmountable ones) to garnering peasant support. Both friends and foes of the revolutionary have regularly compared his poorly planned Bolivian insurgency to his theory of insurgency in order to reveal the contradictions between theory and practice. Daniel James did it as early as 1968, and Becker does so again here. Yet the more clever critiques of Che Guevara’s foco strategy have always been those—such as Ramón Bonachea and Marta San Martín’s The Cuban Insurrection, 1952-1959 (New Brunswick, N.J., 1974)—that counterposed his theoretical writings with the actual events of 1957 and 1958 in the Cuban Revolution itself. Also problematic is Becker’s bolder attempt to situate Che Guevara’s death in 1967 as a pivotal event in the 1968 upsurges around the entire world. This claim simply will not withstand any kind of careful scrutiny: post hoc, ergo propter hoc remains a fallacious argument. In the end, there simply is no need to stretch things that far to appreciate Che Guevara’s broader and ongoing significance to Latin American revolutionaries. For scholars who want something more scholarly and substantive than Becker’s appreciation, however, the book by Loveman and Davies remains our best analytical study that links Che Guevara’s ideas to Latin American insurgencies as such, while Jorge Castañeda’s Utopia Unarmed: The Latin American Left after the Cold War (New York, 1993) and his more recent work Compañero: The Life and Death of Che Guevara (New York, 1997) place Che’s “life’s work” in its broadest context for the region as a whole.