In 1960, Cuban photographer Alberto Korda captured fabled revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara in what has become history's most reproduced photo. Here Michael Casey tells the remarkable story of this image, detailing its evolution from a casual snapshot to an omnipresent graphic—plastered on everything from T-shirts to vodka to condoms—and into a copyrighted brand. As Casey follows it across the Americas and through cyberspace, he finds governments exploiting it and their dissenters attacking it, merchants selling it and tourists buying it. We see how this image is, ultimately, a mercurial icon that still ignites passion—and a reflection of how we view ourselves.
About the Author
Michael Casey is writer and researcher in the fields of economics, finance, and digital technology and culture. Since the summer of 2015, he has been employed as Senior Advisor for the Digital Currency Initiative at MIT's renowned Media Lab, while also providing consulting services and speaking globally on the evolving digital governance of the global economy. Before his MIT assignment, Casey spent 18 years at the Wall Street Journal, where he was most recently a senior columnist covering global economics and markets. He is the author of four books: Che's Afterlife: The Legacy of an Image (Vintage, 2009); The Unfair Trade: How Our Broken Global Financial System Destroys the Middle Class (Crown, 2012); The Age of Cryptocurrency: How Bitcoin and the Blockchain are Challenging the Global Economic Order (co-authored with Paul Vigna; St. Martin's Press, 2015); and The Social Organism: A Radical Understanding of Social Media to Transform Your Business and Life (co-authored with Oliver Luckett; Hachette, 2016).
“Fascinating. . . . Bracing and keenly observed. . . . Not only a cultural history of an image, but also a sociopolitical study of the mechanisms of fame.” –Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“One of the first books on a rarely discussed aspect of Guevara–his branding and why it has endured for more than four decades. . . . Che’s Afterlife provides a detailed account of the ‘product launch’ of the Guevara brand, with Cuba’s Fidel Castro serving as ‘brand manager.’ In doing so, it offers lessons for Obama on how to rebrand the United States in Latin America.” –The Miami Herald
“There are those who only know Fidel Castro’s comrade in arms as a commercial image festooned on fashion, bottles of booze, air fresheners and even condoms. Journalist Casey unlocks the iconic image taken by Cuban lenseman Alberto Korda in what Casey calls ‘a frozen millisecond’ in 1960 Havana.” –New York Post
“Enthralling. . . . About as timely as a book gets. . . . Casey takes off on a quest to find the heart of the definition-of-seminal Che Guevara image. What he comes away with is a fascinating tale of the photographer, the history of the print itself and a global account of the countless places and people that exact image has touched.” –Weekly Dig (Boston)
“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.” –DigitalCity.com (America Online blog)
“In this entertaining and provocative book, Michael Casey takes us into the realm where Che’s martyrdom ends and his global branding begins. Che’s Afterlife is also a smart and sassy comment about our life and times; well worth the read.” –Jon Lee Anderson, author of Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life
“The definitive account of the birth and dissemination of an iconic image. . . . A riveting tale of art and ambition, of rebellion and merchandising. . . . Illuminating and essential reading.” –Héctor Tobar, author of Translation Nation
“Lively and informative. . . . Smartly chronicles the explosive Guevara growth industry in the marketplace of ideas and icons.” –Tom Miller, author of Trading With the Enemy
“Eagle-eyed. . . . Insightful. . . . An evocative and well-written account of All Things Che.” –Ann Louise Bardach, author of Cuba Confidential and Without Fidel
“A tour de force of pop cultural entertainment and analysis.” –Professor David D. Perlmutter, author of Blog Wars
“[A] notable history of how the Che Guevara brand was “produced”. . . . Innovative.” –Jorge Castañeda, author of Compañero: The Life and Death of Che Guevara