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Empire's Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2013


    The author fails to realize that the United States is obligated to look after its security and national interests. Demagogues like Castro and Chavez flourish in the naive, yet Stalinist world view of the author.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2012

    So so

    I am a very liberal person and while i enjoyed this book, it is obciously biased. It is also a very detailed accoumt of u.s. foreign policy that makes me want to know more. The organization is a little frustrating.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2010


    Provocative! This well-researched book details our disastrous foreign policy in Latin America. Both major political parties have used our neighbors to the South as laboratories for mis-guided policies. This is an important book which discusses our relations with most of the Latin American countries. We've sponsored brutal dictators, death squads, and paramilitary insurgencies. Grandin asserts that our relations with Latin America helped form our activities in Iraq! Extensive bibliographic references.

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  • Posted June 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

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    Brilliant study of imperialism

    Greg Grandin teaches Latin American history at New York University. In this brilliant and important book, he studies Latin America and the USA's impact on it. As Hugo Chavez said, "What is happening today in Latin America? To answer this question, read Empire's workshop."

    Thatcher lied that Reagan ended the Cold War 'without firing a shot', but the shots were fired in Latin America and elsewhere, to defeat the Soviet Union. Reagan backed terrorists in Nicaragua and El Salvador, and in Afghanistan, Iran, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Ethiopia, Angola, Mozambique, Libya, Yemen, and Cuba. Reagan imposed capitalism by dirty wars, coups and death squads.

    Thatcher and Reagan imposed cripplingly high interest rates, to cut welfare, education, health and industry, attack trade unions, and wreck pay agreements, job security and pensions.

    The same high interest rates forced Europe's governments to reply in kind, notably wrecking France's social democratic path. These rates also destroyed development programmes in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The City of London and Wall Street lent these countries petrodollars, which went to pay ever-higher interest on earlier debts, not to invest in industry and services.

    In Latin America, income per head had risen by 73% between 1947 and 1973, when its countries were using development strategies. But under laissez-faire capitalism, from 1980 to 1998, there was a boom for Latin America's privateers and a slump for its workers. Median income per head did not rise at all. In 1970, 11% were destitute; in 1996, 33% (165 million people); by 2005, 221 million people were in poverty.

    To develop, countries need land reform, planned industrialisation and decent services for all. For this, they need to have national independence and sovereignty, control over their own resources, and labour needs to control capital, not vice versa. As Grandin sums up, "democracy, social and economic justice, and political liberalization have never been achieved through an embrace of empire but rather through resistance to its command."

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2006

    Best new book on US foreign policy

    Like a lot of Gen X¿ers on the Left, I cut my teeth as a political activist working on Central America in the 80s. We knew then that atrocities and nation razing were taking place in the name of spreading democracy, but until now, no book has underlined that epoch¿s singular historical importance. Over the long term, from the Monroe Doctrine and through countless incarnations of gunboat diplomacy into the present, Grandin shows how the language of free markets, democracy, and American exceptionalism has long clouded our understanding of what in reality amounted to bayonet-backed plutocratic plunder. Over the shorter term, he demonstrates that the ramp up of US anti-communist militarism in Central America during Reagan¿s ¿morning in America¿ helped revitalize the right-wing foreign policy establishment after the retreat from Vietnam, thus setting the stage for our current blunders in Iraq. The Central America wars were not just nasty, in other words. They represented the bloody redemption of what Grandin calls ¿new imperialism¿--a critical and foreboding pivot in the history of foreign affairs. For anyone who wants to have a better understanding of US policy in Latin America generally or who wants a deeper history of our present-day politics of terror than the chattering classes provide, this book is a great place to start. Kudos to Grandin for forcing us to reexamine this shameful but too often forgotten neighborhood history and its unfolding legacy.

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