Overthrow : America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2006-04-04
  • Publisher: Times Books
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Regime change did not begin with the administration of George W. Bush, but has been an integral part of U.S. foreign policy for more than one hundred years. Starting with the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893 and continuing through the Spanish-American War and the Cold War and into our own time, the United States has not hesitated to overthrow governments that stood in the way of its political and economic goals. The invasion of Iraq in 2003 is the latest, though perhaps not the last, example of the dangers inherent in these operations. In Overthrow, Stephen Kinzer tells the stories of the audacious politicians, spies, military commanders, and business executives who took it upon themselves to depose monarchs, presidents, and prime ministers. He also shows that the U.S. government has often pursued these operations without understanding the countries involved; as a result, many of them have had disastrous long-term consequences. In a compelling and provocative history that takes readers to fourteen countries, including Cuba, Iran, South Vietnam, Chile, and Iraq, Kinzer surveys modern American history from a new and often surprising perspective.

Author Biography

Stephen Kinzer is an award-winning foreign correspondent for The New York Times who has reported from more than fifty countries on four continents. He has served as the paper’s bureau chief in Turkey, Germany, and Nicaragua. His
previous books include All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror; Crescent and Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds; and Blood of Brothers: Life and War in Nicaragua. He is also the co-author of Bitter Fruit: The Untold Story of the American Coup in Guatemala. He lives in Chicago.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1(8)
1. A Hell of a Time Up at the Palace
2. Bound for Goo-Goo Land
3. From a Whorehouse to a White House
4. A Break in the History of the World
5. Despotism and Godless Terrorism
6. Get Rid of This Stinker
7. Not the Preferred Way to Commit Suicide
8. We're Going to Smash Him
9. A Graveyard Smell
10. Our Days of Weakness Are Over
11. You're No Good
12. They Will Have Flies Walking Across Their Eyeballs
13. Thunder Run
14. Catastrophic Success
Notes 323(22)
Bibliography 345(20)
Acknowledgments 365(2)
Index 367


     American leaders might be forgiven for intervening in countries about which they were so ignorant. What is harder to justify is their refusal to listen to their own intelligence agents. Chiefs of the CIA stations in Tehran, Guatemala City, Saigon, and Santiago explicitly warned against staging these coups. Officials in Washington paid no heed. They rejected or ignored all intelligence reports that contradicted what they instinctively believed.
     Americans who think about and make foreign policy grasp the nature of alliances, big-power rivalries, and wars of conquest. The passionate desire of people in poor countries to assert control over their natural resources, which pushed them into conflict with the United States during the Cold War, lay completely outside the experience of most American leaders. Henry Kissinger spoke for them, eloquently as always, after Chilean foreign minister Gabriel Valdes accused him of knowing nothing about the Southern Hemisphere.
     “No, and I don't care,” Kissinger replied. “Nothing important can come from the south. History has never been produced in the south. The axis of history starts in Moscow, goes to Bonn, crosses over to Washington, and then goes to Tokyo. What happens in the south is of no importance.”
     This attitude made it easy for American statesmen to misunderstand why nationalist movements arose in the developing world.

Excerpted from Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq by Stephen Kinzer
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