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America's Prisoner: The Memoirs of Manuel Noriega Hardcover – March 11, 1997

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 293 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (March 11, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679432272
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679432272
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,183,730 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Like Muammar al-Qaddafi and Saddam Hussein, Manuel Noriega is vilified by the United States like few other statesmen (or ex-statesmen). Now Noriega has a chance to counter the charges leveled against him in America's Prisoner: The Memoirs of Manuel Noriega. As a former friend of the CIA, Noriega has a unique perspective on U.S. involvement in Latin America, and he has a heap of dirty laundry he's more than willing to air. From his prison cell in Miami, America's only prisoner of war expounds on such topics as his covert dealings with CIA agents, his relationship with high government officials such as George Bush and Oliver North, the U.S. invasion of Panama, and his own drug charges. Helping his cause is Peter Eisner, a former foreign editor and Latin American correspondent for Newsday, who calls in question many of the charges against Noriega while admitting the extreme unpopularity of the man. Brazen and controversial, America's Prisoner is an account of U.S. foreign policy from one who has been on both sides of the political fence.

From Library Journal

General Noriega, the Panamanian leader the Bush administration captured and put on trial after invading the country in December 1989, provides his own account from federal prison of the events leading up to his capture and trial and the twisted logic of the United States in embarking on its invasion strategy. This is not a complete or objective memoir, but as suggested by coauthor Eisner, a well-informed journalist of the region, it demonstrates repeated weaknesses, fabrications, and distortions in the government's case against Noriega and, perhaps more important, reveals unpleasant insights into the way many Americans continue to view Panama and our foreign policy initiatives in the region. A controversial and revealing portrait of the United States from a Latin American perspective.
-?Roderic A. Camp, Latin American Ctr., Tulane Univ., New Orleans
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Malvin VINE VOICE on October 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
"The Memoirs of Manuel Noriega: America's Prisoner" by Manuel Noriega with commentary and analysis by Peter Eisner is an important story. It holds lessons about U.S. imperialism and the demonization of its supposed enemies -- lessons that, unfortunately, appear to have been largely overlooked by the American public. Indeed, the template for the exercise of U.S. power by the elder Bush against Noriega in Panama as described in this book seems to have been knowingly employed by the younger Bush against Saddam in Iraq.
Given the demonization of Noriega in the U.S. media, one may be surprised but nonetheless impressed with Noriega's personal values as they are expressed in this book. Noriega's support of policies that began with the Torrijos administration on raising living standards among the nation's poor seems to be sincere; no doubt this is connected with his Catholic faith and his familiarity with the Bible, which is quoted in several places in the book. Noriega also writes fondly about his career in the Panamanian military and the honor, discipline and professionalism associated with this career and the duties he performed on behalf of his country. Overall, while Noriega does not appear to be a saint he does seem to be a healthy, balanced and moral person.
I think that Noriega's contention that he became a marked man due to his insistence on Panamanian soveriegnty is credible. To his credit, Noriega never bought into Cold War ideology, choosing instead to provide safe haven for political refugees of all stripes and to open up channels of communication with Fidel Castro and others. Yet despite years of friendly relations with the U.S.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By C. Jacobs on April 10, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is of interest because it tells another side of the story of Panama in the 80's. There's a lot of interesting information here. But while I find it almost unavoidable to conclude that American intervention in Panama was guided as much by political expediency and diplomatic incompetence as it was by noble ideals, that doesn't imply Noriega was clean. Sure, Bush, Cheney, Oliver North, Eliot Abrams, etc. were all crooked politicians. But Noriega's portrayal as himself as simply a Panamanian patriot who was destroyed by the USA for standing up to them doesn't hold water. Many controversial aspects of Noriega's reign are not mentioned (Noriega's superstition or alcohol abuse), glossed over (Spadafora killing) or implausibly denied (the fate of the Giroldi coup plotters). He very seldom admits mistakes and even then only half-heartedly ("We should have just cancelled the elections outright instead of waiting until the results were in to anull them") and never shows a trace of regret. The subject of democracy seldom comes up; all opposition to Noriega is characterized simply as the white power elite ("rabiblancos") and their status as pawns of the USA.
In short, the book is disappointing as it appears Noriega has not used his time in jail for serious, thoughtful introspection and analysis. It's not a truthful confession, or even an intersting autobiography; it's basically a defensive essay on the American invasion of 1989. Still it's worth reading as no doubt some of his accusations against the "wimp" Bush bear examination.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Norm on August 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
After reading this book, I come away with a deep sense of sorrow for my fellow Americans. Clearly Manuel Noriega is no saint. However, compared to Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush and their henchmen, Manuel Noriega smells like a rose in comparison.

I have worked with Latin Americans long enough to know that honor and respect are very important to these people. Noriega clearly was a man of honor and respect among his fellow rulers in Latin America. The history of Panama is that of a client state of the United States. Manuel Noriega just was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush were intent on murdering Salvadorans and Nicaraguans to re-establish colonial rule in these countries. Ollie North, their boy, was convicted of obstruction of justice in pursuit of their mission (defying the US Congress' ban on support for the Contras). Manuel Noriega was caught between a rock and a hard place. Being a Latin American he was loyal to his fellow Latin Americans who opposed US rule by fiat. As a client of the United States, Noriega did everything he could to make the US rulers happy. However, in the end, he denied US permission for their covert operations in Nicaragua and El Salvador. This led to his downfall. He chose loyalty to his fellow Latin Americans over being bought off and disposed of by the United States.

I'm sure Noriega withheld a great deal in this book. However, the conclusion I draw is that Noriega chose to stand and defend his position rather than accept the $2 million offer by Eliot Abrams (yes the same Eliot Abrams that urged us that there were WMDs in Iraq) to leave Panama quietly and then be murdered in some dark alley.

If anything Manuel Noriega is a political survivor and not a scumbag in the league of Saddam Hussein or Papa Doc Duvalier.

I, for one, would welcome an appeal of his case to the World Criminal Court in the Hague.
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