What was the US up to in Central and South America?
May 16, 2007 6:33 AM   Subscribe

I am looking for the definitive book on the United States involvement in Central and South America. Can anyone recommend one -- or several, I suppose?

It seems like the US has fucked with every single country in Central and South America, which seems like quite the accomplishment. Are there any good books that cover what the US got up to down there?
posted by chunking express to Society & Culture (14 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Try Masters of War.
posted by BE ADEQUITE at 7:13 AM on May 16, 2007

Walter LaFeber, Inevitable Revolutions: The United States in Central America (1984, 1992)
posted by agent99 at 7:21 AM on May 16, 2007

Thanks for posting this question! My dad's dad was with the Embassy in Central and South America in the '70s. I've always heard stories about their daily life as they moved around, living in different countries, but I never really understood all the conflicts.

I'm going to have to do some reading. :]
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:37 AM on May 16, 2007

Stephen Kinzer's Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq discusses Chile, Cuba, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Puerto Rico.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:42 AM on May 16, 2007

William Blum's Killing Hope is pretty amazing, but I think it focuses on the last fifty years. Noam Chomsky's Year 501 isn't just amazing, it is online free at http://zmag.org/chomsky/year/year-contents.html . Chomsky's written extensively about this and he has several other books on various aspects of the subject.

I haven't read the LaFeber book, but my gut says it's probably pretty gross: all the wrong people like it on the back.

Not to toot my own horn, but there's also a map on my website: http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon2/world.html
posted by history is a weapon at 8:05 AM on May 16, 2007

There are three books I would reccomend, only problem is I only remember the names of two of them.

Central America: A Nation Divided by Ralph Woodward, Jr. is a pretty good book about how reunification efforts amongst Central American nations have not worked and the United States' effort in keeping the status quo in the region.

Shattered Hope: The Guatemalan Revolution and the United States, 1944-1954 by Piero Gleijeses was a pretty groundbreaking book for its time and is a very interesting book. This may be more up your alley because it is about the subversive elements that the United States supported in Guatemala.

The other book sounds like it is EXACTLY what you need but the name escapes me. I'll let you know if it comes to me.
posted by bigcheesegump at 8:19 AM on May 16, 2007

Adbusters' Hope and Memory (Flash; MetaFilter thread) is "an archive of 163 US interventions, a multi-faceted catalogue of coups, humanitarian incursions, covert actions, proxy armies, freedom fighters/terrorists and multilateral offensives."
posted by kirkaracha at 8:48 AM on May 16, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions thus far. history is a weapon, That map is awesome.
posted by chunking express at 8:51 AM on May 16, 2007

Don't miss Open Veins of Latin America
posted by adamvasco at 10:58 AM on May 16, 2007

Thomas Skidmore and Peter Smith's Modern Latin America is a good overview of the history of the region. The US has been the primary foreign actor in the region for the last 150 years, so the book describes US/Latin American relations as well.

Looking through Amazon, Lars Schoultz's Beneath the United States: A History of U.S. Policy Toward Latin America has gotten good reviews (LaFeber says it "should become the standard one-volume work in the field"), but I haven't read it. Review from H-DIPLO (PDF, HTML-ized by Google).
posted by russilwvong at 11:03 AM on May 16, 2007

Open Veins is one of the best books I've ever read on any topic. Very accessible (if horrifying).
posted by serazin at 11:35 AM on May 16, 2007

And lets not forget US non state actors, ie the United Fruit Company. A new book just came out in the UK. I have not read it but the author wrote a nice precis for the FT here.
posted by shothotbot at 6:25 PM on May 16, 2007

Finally found the one I was looking for and came across another great one.

Peter Smith's "Talons of the Eagle: Dynamics of U.S. - Latin American Relations" and Kyle Longley's "In The Eagle's Shadow: The United States and Latin America" are both great books I would reccomend looking into. Have fun!
posted by bigcheesegump at 8:31 PM on May 18, 2007

Response by poster: Awesome. I'll try and track those down. Again, thanks for all the book suggestions.
posted by chunking express at 9:50 PM on May 18, 2007

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