Roll Over Che Guevara
Travels of a Radical Reporter
By Marc Cooper
(Verso, Paperback, 9781859840658, 288pp.)
Publication Date: February 1996
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At the age of 20, after being expelled from his California university for anti-war activism, Marc Cooper moved to Santiago and worked as translator for Chilean President Salvador Allende. The heat of Allende’s socialist revolution forged Cooper’s political and reporting skills, indelibly imprinting them with a radical perspective. In 1973, at great personal risk, he began first-hand reporting on the fiery destruction of Allende’s government and Chilean democracy as a result of the US-financed coup. Twenty years later, travelling as a radical journalist in a reactionary world, Cooper continues to chronicle, with humor and detail, the events that make the headlines. In this book, he takes readers on a tour of the New World Order, including Pinochet’s Chile, Nicaragua in the last hours of the Sandinistas, Soweto under siege, Panama still smoking after the US invasion, Baghdad bracing for the apocalypse and into the new Moscow mafia. The title piece shows Che Guevara’s grandson and a new generation of Cuban youth still yearning for Che’s ever-elusive promise of freedom. The second half of the book, set exclusively in the US, gives a ground-level view of a society in dizzying decay. Readers fly in Bill Clinton’s private campaign plane from New Hampshire to Georgia while the candidate shifts his image—even his accent—in the quest for votes. Readers are guided through America’s cultural background, from Dan Quayle and his confrontation with Hollywood to the ambassadors from armageddon who dominated the 1992 Republican Convention. When Cooper’s home town, Los Angeles, burns with a thousand fires of rage, he takes readers to the very edge of history, describing America’s war with itself. This journey culminates in a personal trip to the city that stands as an icon for the marketplace ethos of today—Las Vegas.
Marc Cooper was a translator for President Salvador Allende at the time of the Chilean coup in 1973. His journalism has appeared in publications that include the New Yorker, Harper’s and Rolling Stone. He is currently a contributing editor of the Nation magazine, and is the author of Roll Over Che Guevara: Travels of a Radical Reporter and Pinochet and Me.