Laurence is a passable writer and she is completely devoid of the pomposity and pretentiousness that characterize her parents. In the book, she tries to justify them as much as possible but the descriptions of how the rich revolutionary snowflakes tried to raise their daughter are genuinely funny.
For instance, when Laurence was 10, her father solemnly announced that she had to choose her political identification. To help her make a choice, he sent her to a Cuban young pioneer camp for a month and then to a US summer camp for another month. The goal was to let her see the contrast between the Cuban idealism and the US materialism and become a sincere communist. When the girl came back and evinced zero admiration for Cuban socialism, the poor Dad was stumped. What he considered a surefire method to make Laurence despise the US backfired and actually produced the opposite result.
Laurence just happened to be as materialistic as humanly possible, and once she grew up, she chose a career in banking (on Wall Street, of all places) that permitted her to buy everything she wanted. She’s a ton smarter than both her parents, though. For instance, her analysis of the situation in today’s Venezuela is very profound.
There will always be people who are so sated with their life of privilege that they will act out like Régis Debray and Elizabeth Burgos – or the Oberlin snowflakes who almost ruined a bakery – did. But they always get their due in the end because their children tend to despise them. The narcissism that leads these bratty revolutionaries to persecute bakers or indigenous peasants ends up mutilating their own children. And the children won’t buy into their self-serving lies about the commons good as easily as everybody else.
Debray spent a lifetime trying to bring happiness to Latin America. Of course, he also despised everything Hispanic, especially the language. He was hysterically opposed to his daughter learning to speak Spanish, which was her mother’s language. It’s very common among revolutionaries to despise the very people they try to help. And hate the people who help them.
De Gaulle’s pleadings had no effect on Bolivians but when the US told them to let Debray go, they had to listen. In return, Debray spent the rest of his life hating the US to the point where he didn’t allow his daughter to have anything US-made in the house.
You can already imagine, I’m sure, what kind of father he made to poor Laurence. But hey, as bad as this fellow sounds, Laurence’s mother, Elizabeth Burgos, was worse. She’s that crazy lady who created the whole Rigoberta Menchú hoax*. After reading her daughter’s book, I finally understood why. She’s a Latin American woman whose French husband refused to live with her, paid no child support, and wrote endless books detailing exactly how much and how joyfully he cheated on her. To a Latin American woman, this is an absolute personal end of the world. (Not the cheating specifically, but the whole setup).
* Or embellished and exaggerated, whatever. She treated Guatemalan indigenous peasants exactly like her husband had treated their Bolivian counterparts twenty years earlier: like empty vessels that she needed to fill with her superior knowledge.
I just finished the book titled The Daughter of Revolutionaries by Laurence Debray. She’s the daughter of Régis Debray, a French guy who was arrested in Bolivia in the 1960s for hanging out with Che Guevara during his final attempt to organize a revolution among the indigenous peasants. The indigenous peasants gladly handed Che over to the military to be killed, and after reading this book it’s crystal clear why. This Debray fellow is annoying as fuck, and the indigenous peasants must have been horrified to see such individuals try to teach them what’s right.
Régis Debray is one of those revolutionaries who come from extremely rich and well-connected families. Which is actually the only kind of sincere revolutionaries that exist. When he was arrested in Bolivia, his mommy started writing letters to the Pope and General de Gaulle, demanding they force Bolivians to release her baby. Of course, de Gaulle couldn’t refuse. In the meantime, the mommy traveled all the way to Bolivia and made the entire French diplomatic service run circles around her and her incarcerated son to make sure she could send him foie gras in jail. Bolivian jail. Foie gras. Yeah, they are those kind of people.