- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Times Books (April 4, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0805078614
- ISBN-13: 978-0805078619
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (271 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #338,310 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq
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From Publishers Weekly
The recent ouster of Saddam Hussein may have turned "regime change" into a contemporary buzzword, but it's been a tactic of American foreign policy for more than 110 years. Beginning with the ouster of Hawaii's monarchy in 1893, Kinzer runs through the foreign governments the U.S. has had a hand in toppling, some of which he has written about at length before (in All the Shah's Men, etc.). Recent invasions of countries such as Grenada and Panama may be more familiar to readers than earlier interventions in Iran and Nicaragua, but Kinzer, a foreign correspondent for the New York Times, brings a rich narrative immediacy to all of his stories. Although some of his assertions overreach themselves—as when he proposes that better conduct by the American government in the Spanish-American War might have prevented the rise of Castro a half-century later—he makes a persuasive case that U.S. intervention destabilizes world politics and often leaves countries worse off than they were before. Kinzer's argument isn't new, but it's delivered in unusually moderate tones, which may earn him an audience larger than the usual crew of die-hard leftists. (Apr.)
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From Bookmarks Magazine
Former New York Times correspondent Stephen Kinzer has produced a book on foreign policy that can sit comfortably beside "edgy fiction, juicy memoirs or newsy exposes" (San Francisco Chronicle). His wide range of inquiry opens him up for some nitpicking: too much focus on American policy without considering the corresponding foreign policy; a tendency towards caricature; and entries on Iraq and Afghanistan that yield little new insight. But if reviewers feel that Kinzer's thesis isn't blindingly originalhe has covered some of this material in his previous books All the Shah's Men and Bitter Fruitthey concur that his amalgamation of the materials is unparalleled and, more important, a thrill to read.<BR>Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
The structure of the book, in other words the US policy of "regime change" in three acts:
1) THE IMPERIAL ERA
When Americans deposed regimes more or less openly. Hawaje, The Spanish-American War, Philippines, Nicaragua and Honduras.
2) COVERT ACTION
“During the Cold War, any direct American intervention risked provoking a reaction from the Soviets, possibly a cataclysmic one. To adjust to this new reality, the United States began using a more subtle technique, the clandestine coup d’etat, to depose foreign governments. In Iran, Guatemala, South Vietnam, and Chile, diplomats and intelligence agents replaced generals as the instruments of American intervention.”
“By the end of the twentieth century, it had become more difficult for Americans to stage coups because foreign leaders had learned how to resist them. Coups had also become unnecessary.
That left it free to return to its habit of landing troops on foreign shores. Both of the small countries Americans invaded in the 1980s, Grenada and Panama, are in what the United States has traditionally considered its sphere of influence, and both were already in turmoil when American troops landed. The two invasions that came later, in Afghanistan and Iraq, were far larger in scale and historical importance.”
The current mission (ideology) + corporate interests (which identifies the US policy) legitimized the US authorities (in their opinion) to interference (open or hidden) in the politics of other countries.
The author quite meticulously describes the different cases of "regime change". Each chapter ends with a summary with a description of the fate of countries; victims of the policy of "regime change".
The book is very informational.
For one thing, Kinzer explains why Iran hates us. It seems that in 1953 our country covertly destabilized and then overthrew Iran's democratically elected government. We then installed one of the most ruthless dictators in history, the Shah of Iran. After 25 years of oppression, a religious leader they called the Ayatollah Khomeini precipitated the Iranian Revolution of 1979, which led to the taking of our Iranian embassy and the holding of over 50 American hostages for 444 days. Iran has been our intractable enemy ever since.
As you'll see, it's all been down hill from there. You already knew Iran was our mortal enemy, but if you believe Mr. Kinzer it's because we created them. And if that's the case, it follows that the First Gulf War, the 9/11 attack, the Invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and all the events that followed are in one way or another arguably fallout from that one fateful 1953 decision.
By the way, Iran is just one of Kinzer's many examples. He starts with the overthrow of Hawaii in 1893 that led to their annexation (and ultimately to statehood). He then describes the Spanish American war and it's many consequences. He extensively describes all of our interventions in Cuba and South America, as well as some of the undisclosed reasons for our involvement in Vietnam. I can't remember all the countries and events he describes, but it's a long list.
Among other things, Kinzer reveals that most of the worst strong-men of the last century were America's puppets, including Pinochet and Saddam. One especially interesting revelation is that one of our puppets, Sergeant Batista, canceled the Cuban elections in which Fidel Castro was running for elected office. Apparently that's what forced Castro to become a revolutionary, thereby creating another long-term intractable enemy.
You'll have to read the book for the whole story. I'm just listing these few examples to pique your interest. As for how believable he is, the author provides extensive historical detail, including quotes from declassified government communications and contemporary news publications. Overall, I found it very credible.