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Hostile Intent: U.S. Covert Operations in Chile, 1964-1974 Hardcover – December 31, 2007

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About the Author

Kristian Gustafson served as an officer in the Canadian Army for six years and later earned his doctorate in history at the University of Cambridge. He is now a lecturer at Brunel University's Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies in England. He lives in Reading, England, and Edmonton, Canada.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Potomac Books Inc.; First Edition edition (December 31, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597970972
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597970976
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #703,599 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Christopher W. Hunt on June 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Gustafson's study of CIA covert operation in Chile from 1964 to 1974 sets the standard for those studying the events leading up to Pinochet's seizure of power, as well as those with an interest in Intelligence operations in general. Gustafson has combed recently declassified US Government documents. He also conducted extensive interviews with CIA agents, and other Americans and Chileans who struggled to react to Chile's extremely volatile political landscape in the decade leading up to Pinochet's military coup in 1973. This is a hard core history book and not a light read. It slowly builds momentum as the events in Chile build momentum. It is well-researched and documented and will likely be recognized as the keystone reference for those studying this subject for decades to come.

Gustafson busts open myths about CIA omnipotentance or that they could have orchestrated the 1973 military coup. He identifies that the US Government's strategy to retain Chile as an American ally was poorly articulated and mostly reactive throughout the 1960's and early 1970's. He also identifies that the lack of a strategy encouraged bureaucratic infighting between the CIA, State Department, and White House, as well as made it extremely difficult for covert operations to be effective as they weren't effectively tied to a larger plan. Gustafson effectively argues that covert action must be in support of formal foreign policy, and that covert action is usually high risk and often does more damage than good in terms of achieving foreign policy objectives.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ed Gehead on January 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The conventional wisdom has been that in the 1970s the CIA, at the behest or approval of the U.S. administration and the State Department, carried out nefarious covert operations that (1) undermined Chilean democracy by attempting (unsuccessfully) to thwart the election of Marxist Salvador Allende; (2) after Allende's election, sought to discredit his administration and support his overthrow by the opposition to include assassination; (3) inspired and supported a military coup led by right-wing General Pinochet that resulted in a brutal dictatorship. These claims came from a variety of sources, the main ones being allegations coming from then left-wing journalist Christopher Hitchens in a series of articles in Harper's Magazine. His claims later found resonance in three books: Seymour Hersh's "The Price of Power", Peter Kornbluh's "The Pinochet File", and Jonathan Haslam's " The Nixon Administration and the Death of Allende's Chile". Now comes a new work from Kristian Gustafson, a British-educated Canadian academic having an area of interest in Intelligence and Securities Studies who conducted a scholarly examination of the record to determine whether it supported the claims underlying the conventional wisdom. Surprise, surprise. On close and thorough examination Gustafson found that the claims of covert operations were either unsupported or that the operations that were conducted were ineffective because they were too late or performed half-heartedly. He concluded that the evidence and record established that the controversial political events were all the product of internal Chilean political dynamics and that U.S. efforts to influence outcomes were vastly overrated.Read more ›
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Volkmar on May 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Reviewer Christopher W. Hunt has said it all. I would like to add the following: in optaining my bachelors degree in History in 2008, I had to do a literature review about the subject, i.e. comparing the most relevant and most recent works.

The one that stood out and actually blew me away, was the book by Gustafson, so if you had to read just one book, read Gustafsons. His is one of the few about the subject that actually deserve the title of "historical work", and after having read so much emotional and superficial publications that simply do not dig deep nor look wide enough, it was a relief and an eye-opener to read Hostile Intent: very well written, always carefull in making claims, and you can just FEEL his effort - after having read all the older works himself no doubt - to deliver a bigger, more objective point of view. His book in fact sits on top of a big mountain (overviewing all the smaller mountains with their puny works) and woos the gods of history. Gustafson also provides a good overview of the older works.

If you actually go read those older works, and then read Gustafson, you will see what the difference is between chop suey and actual history writing. This whole experience made me see that (complex) history is to be left to serious historians; forget "history" books about complex subjects with multiple points of view that have been written by laymen, journalists, politicians, freedom fighters, whatever! The whole historiography of this dividing subject is a perfect case in point of the fact that judgement is easy, but correct judgement is difficult.

Gustafson => RESPECT! Seriously. You have written thé benchmark about the subject, making obselete (and shaming) all the older works. Your "Hostile Intent" was sorely needed!
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