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Empire's Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism Hardcover – May 2, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0805077384 ISBN-10: 0805077383 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

America's post-9/11 policy of idealistic military adventurism has a long history, argues this incisive study. NYU historian Grandin (The Blood of Guatemala) sketches the vexed course of U.S. relations with Latin America, but focuses on the Reagan administration's involvement in Central America during the 1980s, when it backed the Salvadoran government in a brutal civil war against left-wing insurgents and the Nicaraguan Contras against the Sandinista regime. Then as now, Grandin contends, Washington justified a militarist stance by citing a threat to America (Communists advancing on the Rio Grande) and championing democracy and human rights. America did not send troops but did sponsor native death squads in El Salvador, and the author notes recent press reports that the U.S. military is sponsoring similar death squads in Iraq. Grandin's conception of American imperialism—covering everything from outright invasion to corporate investment and Fed interest-rate hikes—is too broad, and he overstates the importance of Central America in the making of the American New Right. But this timely book offers an analysis of the ideological foundations of today's foreign policy consensus and a cautionary tale about its dark legacy. (May 8)
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From Booklist

Most Americans pay little attention to our southern neighbors; however, according to NYU Latin American history professor Grandin, the U.S. government has indeed been paying attention to the region. Grandin contends that Latin America has been a testing ground--a laboratory, if you will--for the U.S. government to exercise its imperialistic tendencies. Grandin argues that U.S.-Latin American relations, from the administration of Thomas Jefferson up to the present Bush presidency, should be seen as sure indication the U.S. has always harbored imperial intentions. Our interventions in Latin America, both military and economic, have gone on repeatedly over the decades and reveal that the current administration's foreign policy, built on the concept of using military action to spread and establish our "ideals," is nothing new; it's been practiced in Latin America again and again. Contentious, certainly, but well presented. Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Metropolitan Books; 1st edition (May 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805077383
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805077384
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,083,128 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Greg Grandin is the author of Fordlandia, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. A Professor of History at New York University, Grandin has published a number of other award-winning books, including Empire's Workshop, The Last Colonial Massacre, and The Blood of Guatemala.

Toni Morrison called Grandin's new work, The Empire of Necessity, "compelling, brilliant and necessary." Released in early 2014, the book narrates the history of a slave-ship revolt that inspired Herman Melville's other masterpiece, Benito Cereno. Philip Gourevitch describes it as a "rare book in which the drama of the action and the drama of ideas are equally measured, a work of history and of literary reflection that is as urgent as it is timely."

Grandin has served on the United Nations Truth Commission investigating the Guatemalan Civil War and has written for the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, The New Statesman, the Guardian, the London Review of Books, and The New York Times. He received his BA from Brooklyn College, CUNY, in 1992 and his PhD from Yale in 1999. He has been a guest on Democracy Now!, The Charlie Rose Show, and the Chris Hayes Show.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

121 of 134 people found the following review helpful By Amika on May 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book is much more than a history of the US in Latin America. It's an explanation of the importance of Ronald Reagan's Central American policy in the formation of the conservative movement and how that policy led to war in Iraq. All of the stuff that we are reading about today - abuses of power such as the NSA wiretapping controversy, the surveillance of antiwar protesters, the way the Bushies have used public relations companies and so-called "grassroots" conservative groups like the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the justification of torture in the name of supporting freedom, the lying and misinformation - have their beginnings in Reagan's Central American policy. The stuff in chapter four on how Otto Reich and the rest of the neocons learned out to manipulate the press is fascinating and scary. And Grandin's discussion of how the Christian evangelicals joined forces with the neocons to fight liberation theology is the best discussion I've so far read on the origins of Bush's foreign policy. It's much more interesting than Kevin Phillip's book on the theocons or any of the multiple books on the neocons. This is the smartest historical examination of neoconservative foreign policy adventurism that I have read.
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Dana Garrett on February 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Greg Grandin's Empire's Workshop is a work of enormous synthetic breadth. While it is a commonplace for commentators to point out that many of the policy analysts and foreign policy specialists that staffed the Reagan administration have also staffed the George W. Bush administration, in my reading Grandin's work is the first to chart the philosophical, policy and propagandistic correlations between them.

Grandin demonstrates that many of the techniques employed by the Bush administration to garner and sustain support for its wars and to employ effective disinformation were forged and refined in the laboratory (or "workshop" as Grandin puts it) of Central America during the Reagan years. Particularly novel is Grandin's analysis of how both Reagan and Bush curried the active support of the USA religious right in pursuit of its foreign and military policy aims. In the end, the reader realizes that the Reagan years became a template for the Bush years.

The book is brilliant. I found it difficult to put it down.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Beel on June 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The second reviewer above misses the point of this book, which is to show the historical relationships between the players in current United States Foreign Policy (e.g., Cheney, Rumsfeld, Negroponte) and the players of the mid-'80s in the Reagan Foreign Policy. Moreover, his number one point, that no one in "Latin America" killed 3500 Americans (presumably a reference to the attacks of 9/11), sort of misses the obvious fact that no one in Iraq did either. I think the fact that so many players in Reagan's Iran-Contra clandestine foreign policy have surfaced once again in the current Middle East policy cries out for a book like this. Buy it and learn more.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Edward Rubin on July 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I saw Grandin discuss this book at an event last month in Cambridge, where he appeared with Noam Chomsky. The place was packed, and both Grandin and Chomsky gave great presentations. Grandin's was one of the best summaries of the origins of the modern conservative movement I have ever heard, so I bought the book. It is an amazing analysis, very counter-intuitive. Grandin's book stresses the importance of foreign policy in the rise of the New Right, in particularly the importance of the US's long history in Latin America. I've read a lot of interesting speculation about neoconservatives and the Christian New Right, but this book traces their alliance back to Ronald Reagan's Central American policy. Actually, the connections between Bush's foreign policy, which has gotten us into the mess the US is in in Iraq, and Reagan's support of the Contras in Nicaragua and the death squads in El Salvador is kind of terrifying. Since so many of the bushies first got started in Iran-Contra, I have to wonder why nobody has connected the dots before this book. At the presentation in Boston, Grandin pointed out that Chomsky's book on Central America, Turning the Tide, came out 21 years ago. I just read that book a few years ago myself, and Empire's Workshop is a worthy follow-up.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Macke on July 31, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is truly an excellent book that in a clear way illustrates American involvement in South and Central America.The book begins by telling the story about how Kennedy set out to reshape the Americas into a place where true revolutionary ideals could grow spread by free men and women. He started something called the "Alliance for progress" which contained the nucleus of this idea. The problem was that he armed exactly those people who where completley opposed to these revolutionary ideas. thus began an era of counterrevolution, that gave birth to the death squads and coups in Brazil, Uruguay, Chile and Argentina. When Richard Nixon arrived in Venezuela in 1958 his limousine was attacked by an angry mob. The next day they cleared the streets with tear gas so he could leave safely. This set the tone for American and Latin American relation in the coming years. Allendes election in Chile terrified Nixon because Allende wasnt trying to create another Cuba with Soviet style repression of civil liberties. He wanted a socialist state that would be a symbol of real reform, and this was truly frightening to Washington. Therefore Nixon with the help of the strong arm of the CIA ordered Allendes downfall.

Later when Reagan came to power he saw his purpose to reinstate a sense of national purpose and this he did by restoring military power. Almost all of Latin America was ruled at the time by pro american dictators, but something was starting to brew in Central America. The hardest hit countries where El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala. US allies killed approximatley 300,ooo people during Reagans two terms. Hundreds of thousands where tortured.
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