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Predatory States: Operation Condor and Covert War in Latin America Paperback – May 26, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0742536876 ISBN-10: 0742536874

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Editorial Reviews


In this remarkable example of investigative scholarship, J. Patrice McSherry systematically and compellingly explains the logic of the emergence of Operation Condor and details the actors, phases, activities and consequences of this regional anticommunist network. . . . A magnificent example of meticulous secondary and primary research, powerful writing, and responsible activism. . . . McSherry's book serves as a damning testimony of the horrors of the security-focused parallel state and a warning to citizens, scholars, journalists, politicians, and democratic activists to resist the logic of the security parallel state and demand transparency and accountability. (Kirk Bowman New Political Science)

[McSherry] has achieved scholarly excellence. . . . Readers will learn a great deal about Condor that was not identified and developed in other scholarly or journalistic accounts. . . . Sources have been expertly utilized. . . . A must-read in U.S. departments of international relations, political science, and in programs of Latin American Studies. . . . This study is ground-breaking in its scholarly integration of primary data and social science theory. (Martha K. Huggins, Tulane University)

This important book is must-reading for graduate students and public policy officials interested in Central and Latin America. It is also a significant contribution to an understanding of U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War with respect to international state terrorism. Highly recommended. (CHOICE)

Eloquently traces the roots of Operation Condor in the 1970s to a broad policy of anticommunism after World War II. . . . Contributes significantly to studies of the Cold War. . . . McSherry defines Condor as part of a broad and systematic trans-American policy actively pursued by the United States under the banner of anticommunism. Her work goes beyond other studies that have tended to reduce U.S. Cold War policies in Latin America to specific episodes. . . . McSherry's concept of the parallel state is also a provocative invitation to re-examine the relationship between the state and civil society in modern Latin America. (American Historical Review)

McSherry's book makes a number of important contributions to our understanding of Operation Condor. First, she adds a wealth of factual information to the familiar, if hazy, outline of what is already known about Condor, drawing on an impressive range of sources. . . . Her skillful use of this fragmentary evidence enables her to draw compelling conclusions and could serve as a model for research into the complex and difficult field of secret intelligence operations. (Journal Of Third World Studies)

McSherry is uniquely qualified to write this book. . . . [It is] a very important contribution to our knowledge of international state terrorism and its connection to U.S. foreign policy in the era of the cold war. (Brian Loveman, San Diego State University)

J. Patrice McSherry’s book occupies a central place in this new literature [documenting the history of long-known abuses in Latin America] as it successfully analyzes the extent of U.S. involvement in the region and the connections between U.S. Cold War policies and some of the most egregious human rights abuses that took place in the region. . . . McSherry’s careful analysis of newly declassified documents allows her to unveil the role that the U.S. played in aiding and abetting criminal regimes to conduct extraterritorial operations to kill their 'enemies' throughout the globe. (Logos: A Journal of Modern Society & Culture)

Provides a conceptual framework that brings out the formal nature of Operation Condor and South American repression more generally. . . . The book’s attention to detail is impressive. (Gregory B. Weeks, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, author of The Military and Politics in Postauthoritarian Chile)

Extending over six decades, this study highlights the importance of historical memory. . . . A major strength of this book is precisely its global context and the comparative angle of its analysis, well beyond the scope of Latin America. (The Americas: A Quarterly Review of Latin American History, January 2008)

J. Patrice McSherry has deftly utilised [newly available] resources in an analysis that combines a conceptual framework with a compelling account of repression, suffering and death. McSherry's primary theoretical thrust is that counterinsurgency fundamentally changed the relationship between state and society. . . . McSherry's analysis should be viewed not only as a discussion of the past, but also as a cautionary tale for the present and future. (Journal of Latin American Studies, February 2008)

Predatory States explains in well-documented detail how the Condor system worked, how the United States participated (especially through the CIA), and how the countries involved worked to keep their activities secret. (Latin American Politics and Society, March 2008)

Provide[s] important new details on the working of the system of internal repression. (International Affairs, March 2008)

The reasons for intervention, subversion, terror, and repression are not obscure. They are summarized accurately by Patrice McSherry in the most careful scholarly study of Operation Condor, the international terrorist operation established with U.S. backing in Pinochet’s Chile. (Noam Chomsky, MIT Monthly Review)

An important and timely read. It provides a unique and dark historical perspective on political 'swings' in Latin America, and the story has particular significance and political weight today as Latin America once again garners international attention and anxiety from its perceived 'turn to the left.' The exhaustive documentation of US covert and extra-legal involvement in the manipulation and control of Latin American political and social transitions, all in the name of ‘security,’ is presented with conviction and courage, leaving the reader with a simple and palpable warning about the consequences and legacies of 'anti-subversive' fervour, the pursuit of militaristic 'solutions' and contemporary policies of global interventionism. (Bulletin of Latin American Research)

McSherry provides direct answers to many of the most important questions surrounding US involvement in death squad operations overseas during the Cold War. . . . [She] has assembled a wealth of information that firmly establishes the central role of the US government in the use of paramilitary death squads as a tool of counterinsurgency strategy in the Cold War. (The Salvador Option)

About the Author

J. Patrice McSherry is professor of political science and director of the Latin American & Caribbean Studies Program at Long Island University.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (May 26, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0742536874
  • ISBN-13: 978-0742536876
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #536,688 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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See all 6 customer reviews
I highly recommend "Predatory States."
Curtis Skinner
It is also interesting the fact that this books shows how repression spread from South America to Central America.
Daniel Velasquez
McSherry also conducted numerous personal interviews that are footnoted in the work.
David -

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Meldon on December 20, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a must read, especially if you're still puzzled by seemingly unanimous worldwide contempt for Washington. With lucid prose, thorough documentation and gory detail, historian McSherry leads her reader to the inescapable conclusion that, in Latin America at least, the U.S. government rarely lets respect for human rights get in the way of self-interest. As the Reagan team reassured the generalissimos even before its electoral victory, the early days of the Jimmy Carter presidency (1976-1980) would be an unusual exception. Even before Carter came to Washington, the Nixon and Ford administrations helped create the Chilean monster that was the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, which would quickly exterminate 3,000 of its perceived enemies. And with a helping hand from the CIA and encouragement from Henry Kissinger, Pinochet would partner with neighboring caudillos in Operation Condor, a kidnapping and assassination collaborative that would target the dictators' civilian opponents abroad. All of which is common knowledge among the supposedly ignorant masses, the myriad victims of IMF and WTO austerity regimens south of the Border. It's high time norteamericanos achieved comparable historical literacy. "Predatory States" is a good place to jump start the process.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Curtis Skinner on March 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
This well-written book meticulously documents the development and operation of an appalling transnational organization of state terror to persecute leftists and other real or imagained opponents of the South American military regimes during the 1970's. Patrice McSherry's research is rigorously documented and lays bare the central role the United States played in supporting Operation Condor and nurturing the Latin American "national security state." This book will be very useful for any reader interested in Latin American politics and society and in United States relations with the rest of the Americas. I highly recommend "Predatory States."
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Velasquez on January 11, 2006
Format: Paperback
Among the reason why I liked "Predatory States: Operation Condor and Covert War in Latin America" by J. Patrice McSherry is the fact that she kept relevant the events that took place in Lating America more than 20 year ago by comparing them to current ones like the just "revealed brutal methods and secret operations" (xxi) used by the United States to fight terrorism worldwide.

On the first chapter the author successfully explains what led Latin American countries into the bloody repression by military dictatorships: "the distribution of power and wealth in human society, who gets what, how, and why." (6)

It is also interesting the fact that this books shows how repression spread from South America to Central America. Repression in Central America was not just the result of government fights against guerrillas, military governments wanted to consolidate their power.

One more thing that made this book worth reading was the testimonies the author gathered. Having witness, victims, and survivors speak about their experience adds value to the research done in this book.
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