TUESDAY

For would-be Marxists and trustafarian college students in need of some cred, the image of the aristocratic Argentine medical student turned Cuban revolutionary Ernesto Guevara has proven the perfect accessory. His leonine, nobly bereted visage is the adornment of countless overpriced T-shirts and dorm room walls, dissociated from the violent, guerrilla-style revolucion he embraced as Fidel Castro’s brother-in-arms. In his ambitious first book, Chasing Che: A Motorcycle Journey in Search of the Guevara Legend, Washington City Paper alum Patrick Symmes puts Che on the dissecting table in an attempt to get at the guts of his universal sainthood. Symmes’ gonzo, Hunter S. Thompson-esque method: Embark on a re-creation of the still-bourgeois 23-year-old Guevara’s four-month, 10,000-mile motorcycle trip across South America and, as the wheels spin, figure out how the good doctor became the inspiration for Rage Against the Machine. Guevara undertook his journey in 1952 in search of the spirit of the people and came back ready to fight the good fight; Symmes began his almost 50 years later to investigate Che’s “deliberate process of shedding his names, his past, his class, his family, and his country.” The result is as interesting for the articulate barbs Symmes casts at the current state of Latin American socialism as pathological cult of personality as it is for the poignant, powerfully human light it casts on Guevara’s cryptic character. Symmes discusses his book at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 29, at Travel Books & Language Center, 4437 Wisconsin Ave. NW. Free. (202) 237-1322. (Justin Moyer)

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