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Secret History: The CIA’s Classified Account of Its Operations in Guatemala 1952-1954 2nd Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0804754682
ISBN-10: 0804754683
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Nick Cullather sheds new light on an old regime change, assissted by documents initially made public during the tenure of former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director (and current Secretary of Defense) Robert Gates. Cullather's work is concise, detailed, and eminantly readable...In summary, Cullather provides a realistic and nuanced view of an otherwise well-covered operation, see through the eyes of the agency that led PBSUCCESS...For students of Latin America and U.S. national security policymaking in the region, Cullather has done a great service." —Mark Montesclaros, Department of Joint, Interagency and Multinational Operations, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College

From the Inside Flap

The first edition of this book, published in 1999, was well-received, but interest in it has surged in recent years. It chronicles an early example of “regime change” that was based on a flawed interpretation of intelligence and proclaimed a success even as its mistakes were becoming clear. Since 1999, a number of documents relating to the CIA’s activities in Guatemala have been declassified, and a truth and reconciliation process has unearthed other reports, speeches, and writings that shed more light on the role of the United States. For this edition, the author has selected and annotated twenty-one documents for a new documentary Appendix, including President Clinton’s apology to the people of Guatemala.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press; 2 edition (November 6, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804754683
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804754682
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #407,344 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
This is the reprint, Stanford also produced the original version, Secret History: The CIA's Classified Account of Its Operations in Guatemala, 1952-1954. I bought that one used and not only loved the speed of delivery, but the notes from the previous owner.

My next review will cover The CIA in Iran: The 1953 Coup and the Origins of the US-Iran Trade. The two "successes" would both be condemned by history, but more pointedly, led to the CIA misadventures in Cuba, Chile, the Philippines, Viet-Nam, and so on.

There is a great deal in this book that I was not aware of, and that is with 294 reviews tagged Intelligence (Government/Secret)at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog, all leading back to their Amazon page.

In a nutshell, PBSUCCESS was a stunningly inept widely known endeavor penetrated across multiple points by the Guatemalan government, which succeeded only because the Army lost its nerve and deposed their own elected President. Especially new to me were the US Navy blockage of the Guatemalan ports (one on each coast), and the failure of CIA-trained "saboteurs" to derail the shipment of arms from the port to the capital city that the President was able to procure despite a global US embargo on arms for Guatemala.

This is a book I really appreciate and strongly recommend to anyone who wants to understand the nuts and bolts of "covert action" in close association with the idiocy and lack of ethics in the US Government then (and now).
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Format: Paperback
This book is fantastic. A great CIA sponsored text, describing the CIA's mission to destabilize and overthrow the Guatemalan government in the 50s. Built ALMOST COMPLETELY out of internal CIA documents, the purpose of the book was to provide the CIA with a template for future intervention missions. When you read this, you really start to get a feel for what the CIA would do in the future.

A must read for anyone with a serious interest in US Foreign Policy.
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Format: Paperback
This is a brilliantly researched account of the US government's Operation PBSUCCESS, a campaign to overthrow Guatemala's democratically elected president Jacobo Arbenz in 1954 using the CIA, followed by the installation of a dictatorship that ended up killing thousands of Guatemalans. The author uses declassified CIA documents to show not only the rationale behind Operation PBSUCCESS (it wasn't only to counter what was perceived as a Soviet-style government, but also to protect the financial interests of a prominent US company operating in Guatemala), but also the exact methods the CIA used to spread propaganda throughout Guatemala with the intention of undermining Arbenz's government, which was wrongly perceived as being a communist regime. This book highlights the results of misinterpreting intelligence information and the results of ignoring information that may be inconvenient. The tragedy is that so many Guatemalans suffered as a result.
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