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Bitter Fruit: The Story of the American Coup in Guatemala, Revised and Expanded (Series on Latin American Studies) Paperback – January 29, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0674019300 ISBN-10: 067401930X Edition: Revised

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Bitter Fruit: The Story of the American Coup in Guatemala, Revised and Expanded (Series on Latin American Studies) + The Penguin History of Latin America
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Product Details

  • Series: Series on Latin American Studies (Book 4)
  • Paperback: 330 pages
  • Publisher: David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies; Revised edition (January 29, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067401930X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674019300
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,239 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Stephen Schlesinger is Director of the World Policy Institute.

Stephen Kinzer is a visiting fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University.


John H. Coatsworth is Dean of the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and former Director of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University.

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Customer Reviews

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It is very well written and covers the information clearly.
Lehigh History Student
Also, I HIGHLY recommend for history buffs like myself - but this book can be enjoyed by anyone.
Dan
I first heard of the book, Bitter Fruit, when I was traveling in Guatemala.
John R

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

98 of 99 people found the following review helpful By D. Cloyce Smith on June 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
Schlesinger's and Kinzer's classic study examines one of the more disgraceful chapters in the history of American foreign policy: the CIA-sponsored overthrow in 1954 of the democratically elected government of Guatemala. The long-term repercussions of this unprovoked excursion are still felt today; many Latin American countries still do not trust United States intentions because of our actions in both Guatemala and, two decades later, Chile.

"Bitter Fruit" explodes some cherished myths that apologists for the coup have proffered over the years. First, it's clear that Roosevelt rather than Stalin provided the inspiration to the presidencies of Juan Jose Arevalo (1945-1951) and Jacobo Arbenz Guzman (1951-1954). Both Arevalo and Arbenz were motivated by the policies and practices of the New Deal; their support for labor and their actions towards American businesses must be viewed in this light and were never any worse than the laws passed during the Depression in the United States. Regardless of whatever tolerance Guatemalan Communists may have enjoyed, or influence they may have had--and it's clear that they didn't have much--the Eisenhower administration was motivated as much by scorn of the Roosevelt and Truman years as by anti-Communism. (Tellingly, those who cite Che Guevera's presence in Guatemala often fail to note that his arrival, at the age of 25 in early 1954, postdated the planning of American intervention and predated by many years Guevera's notoriety.)

Second, the succession of American puppets who succeeded Arbenz were certainly not supported by the people of Guatemala: the ragtag opposition "army" never exceeded 400 troops in number, and none of the dictators during the next four decades could have survived a freely held election.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Dan on September 23, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Whether you're a connoiseur with a PhD in international relations, a high-school dropout looking to enhance their missing education, or someone who just wants to read an engrossing book with a little intellectual flare to it, one can be both entertained and appalled by the story contained in "Bitter Fruit".
Kinzer and Schlesinger's writing is impeccable, and somehow manages to stay apolitical. The authors do an excellent job of not flaunting the miscues of the American overthrow of Guatemala's democratically elected government, but merely let the facts from all angles tell their own story. In addition, the writing is quite fast-paced in style but pays attentive detail to fact and exhautively denotes the sources behind the writing. I purchased this for reading as part of a class assignment - and then cited it in two places in my senior essay!
So instead of buying a FICTIONAL thriller or adventure or spy novel for your downtime reading, why not pick up a book where the plot . . . actually happened?! In addition, despite being originally published a quarter century ago, the book is amazingly relevant to issues in today's foreign policy (*cough* Iraq *cough*). Also, I HIGHLY recommend for history buffs like myself - but this book can be enjoyed by anyone. Well, "enjoyed" isn't really the word - after reading this book, I felt a sense of anger towards our government for their selfish actions 50 years ago, and a sense of pity toward the people of Guatemala, who had no idea what hit them. But the feelings weren't on the level as to wish that I had never read the book - on the contrary, it made me feel more enlightened both about the Cold War era as well as today's international climate.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Lehigh History Student VINE VOICE on December 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
America has staged many coup's throughout the years but this one will always hold a special place in history. Feeling good from our overthrow of the Mosaddegh and our installation of the Shah; we attempted to put our own government in Guatemala and entered a botched attempt that would lead to disaster. America's involvement in Latin America has always been tenuous with the natives but this account really shows why they fear and hate us at times. It is very well written and covers the information clearly. Highly recommend.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Matt on August 17, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Schlesinger and Kinzer did indeed write a classic. The book is well-written and very readable. While it is certainly an academic work and may be considered a textbook, it is not as dry as such the connotation suggests. On the contrary, the story at times feels like a best-selling espionage novel or a Hollywood conspiracy-theory movie, but much better in my opinion.

More importantly, Bitter Fruit is supported by excellent sources - many Freedom of Information Act documents and also many memoirs and interviews of people involved in the events. This is comforting and assures that while the book is almost written in the style of a fictional thriller, the authors did not take any liberties of rewriting or embellishing history to make the book more fun to read.

Schlesinger and Kinzer also do an excellent job of providing the background of the parties involved and the historical context in which the revolution and coup took place. They also wrap up the book well in their 'Aftermath' final chapter and provide much needed closure to the story, in which they discuss the fates of the major players since the coup.

Highest recommendations.
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