Empire’s Workshop by Greg Grandin

Blatantly partisan, and frustrating more than informative. Was hoping for a survey history of Latin America, with a view towards US interference. Instead I got an overview of US elites’ ideology as *applied* to Latin America, which was not nearly as illuminating.

The book skips around between years and places constantly, making it hard to form a coherent picture of what was happening at each phase. It also doesn’t quote many primary sources, or do more than mention a speech or paper only to summarize and condemn it.

Despite its many attempts to convince with rhetoric rather than facts, I did manage to learn a few things:

  • The US military developed many of its air combat tactics fighting Nicaraguan rebels in the 1920s
  • Reagan’s administration established a policy office whose job was not just to present their “positive” side of the Contras but also to get citizen’s groups to organize campaigns to lobby Congress, which is illegal
  • US withdrew from the International Court of Justice because it ordered us to pay reparations to Nicaragua for mining its ports and conducting clandestine operations there