Deborah Davis is the author of Fabritius and the Goldfinch; Guest of Honor: Booker T. Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, and the White House Dinner That Shocked a Nation; Strapless: John Singer Sargent and the Fall of Madame X; Party of the Century; and Gilded. She formerly worked as an executive, story editor, and story analyst for several major film companies. For more information, visit www.WarholRoadTrip.com and follow along on Instagram @WarholRoadTrip.
Standing on a wind-scoured island off the Alaskan coast, Philip Caputo marveled that its Inupiat Eskimo schoolchildren pledge allegiance to the same flag as the children of Cuban immigrants in Key West, six thousand miles away. And a question began to take shape: How does the United States, peopled by every race on earth, remain united? Caputo resolved that one day he'd drive from the nation's southernmost point to the northernmost point reachable by road, talking to everyday Americans about their lives and asking how they would answer his question.
So it was that in 2011, in an America more divided than in living memory, Caputo, his wife, and their two English setters made their way in a truck and classic trailer (hereafter known as "Fred" and "Ethel") from Key West, Florida, to Deadhorse, Alaska, covering 16,000 miles. He spoke to everyone from a West Virginia couple saving souls to a Native American shaman and taco entrepreneur. What he found is a story that will entertain and inspire readers as much as it informs them about the state of today's United States, the glue that holds us all together, and the conflicts that could cause us to pull apart.
In 1952 Alberto Granado, a young doctor, and his friend Ernesto Guevara, a 23-year-old medical student from a distinguished Buenos Aires family, decided to explore their continent. They set off from Cordoba in Argentina on a Norton 500cc motorbike and traveled through Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela. The duo's adventures vary from the suspenseful (stowing away on a cargo ship, exploring Incan ruins) to the comedic (falling in love, drinking, fighting...) to the serious (volunteering as firemen and at a leper colony). They worked as day laborers along the way—as soccer coaches, medical assistants, and furniture movers. The poverty and exploitation of the native population started the process that was to turn Ernesto—the debonair, fun-loving student—into Che, the revolutionary who had a profound impact on the history of several nations.
Originally published in Spanish in Cuba in 1978, the first English translation was published by Random House UK in 2003. The movie, based on Granado's and Che's diaries, directed by Walter Salles (Central Station, Behind the Sun), was produced by Robert Redford and others. Shown at the Sundance Film Festival, it generated great reviews and a frenzied auction for distribution rights, which was won by Focus Features. Granado, now 82, was a consultant to Salles during the production. 10 b/w photos.