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Empire's Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  493 ratings  ·  47 reviews
“Grandin has always been a brilliant historian; now he uses his detective skills in a book that is absolutely crucial to understanding our present.”
—Naomi Klein, author of No Logo

The British and Roman empires are often invoked as precedents to the Bush administration’s aggressive foreign policy. But America’s imperial identity was actually shaped much closer to home. In a
Paperback, 320 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by Holt Paperbacks (first published 2006)
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Simon Wood

Empires Workshop stands a good head and shoulders above most works of this nature I have recently read. Grandin writes fluently about the relationship between the United States and Latin America over the last hundred years or so, identifying the continuities as well as the innovations. The only innovation that comes across as being halfway sensible is FDR good neighbour policy. The rest of the presidents would seem to require some sort of International ASBO to keep them
A number of George W. Bush’s supporters, both during and after his presidency (2001-2009), vocally expressed their belief that history would judge Bush’s polices favorably. In Empire’s Workshop, however, Greg Grandin judged Bush Administration policy in regard to historical precedent. Grandin traced the development and implementation of a new United States imperialism from the late 1970s to the present. In conflicts in Central America and financial crises across the region, Reagan Era neoconserv ...more
Super useful books for activists and radicals in understanding the extent of US imperial meddling in Latin America. But, this book is definitely a product of drinking too heavily the New Right/Bush Doctrine kool aid and lets liberals and Democratic politicians largely off the hook for their support for and leading of the right of the US government and corporations to push their economic and military might on other countries.
Jason Canada
Just as we are fed propaganda about Islam and the Middle East, so too are we fed lies about Nicaragua, Cuba, and most other Central American countries. Our government seeks to implant democracy in other countries while oligarchic neocapital corporatism is good enough for us here at home.
As juvenile as this may sound, something that kept crossing my mind while reading this book was a lyric from a song in Disney's Pocahontas: "how can there be so much that you don't know you don't know?"

Empire’s Workshop: The United States, Latin America, and the Rise of the New Imperialism strives to explain to its readers how the "current" events taking place in Iraq and the Middle East are not only related to politically but also are extremely similar to the past 60 years in Latin America (thi
Zachary Fletcher
"'We're an empire now,' boasted a Bush staffer after the invasion of Iraq, 'and when we act, we create our own reality.'"
-pg. 237

I try to be sparing with the Orwell quotes and references, since they tend to be overused to the point of meaninglessness, but it would hard to find a more fitting summary for Empire's Workshop than "WAR IS PEACE. FREEDOM IS SLAVERY. IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH."

An unpleasant, disconcerting, revelatory book. I don't have enough base knowledge of the subject matter to make a
A sobering and impeccably detailed account of how the U.S.'s current nation building spree in Iraq and Afghanistan had its genesis in the neocon awakening of the 60s, 70s and 80s in developing foreign policy and interventionism in Latin America. The insidious and largely clandestine machinery used to usurp democratically elected governments in Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Bolivia, Venezuela, and Mexico is illuminated in these pages, and in doing so Grandin's demonstrates how those f ...more
Rachel (OfBooksAndTeaBags)
I just... I don't even know what to do with this book. Read it for my class on Latin America during the Cold War. It was interesting but it took me forever to get through. Example: It normally takes me about an hour to read 60 pages. I had to read about 70 pages this morning to be ready for class discussion today and it took me almost three hours and I still had 14 pages left... But it was really interesting! Though it completely destroys how you look at some of the presidents. America really di ...more
Peter Jana
The central thread of Empire’s Workshop is that the war on terror – including the Iraq War – is an extension of policies pursued in Latin America during the Cold War. Grandin’s historical coverage is broad, but the focus is on the Reagan administration. In the 1980s, Neoconservative secularists and the religious right found common cause in promoting an aggressive foreign policy in El Salvador and Nicaragua – a policy that led to the creation and support of death squads, rural terror, and massacr ...more
Carlos Smith
Empire's Workshop reminds us of the often forgotten or untold sins The U.S. has committed in relation to Latin America for the past two centuries and how our exploitation of the continent evolved to become Bush's preemptive national security policy, the basis for the Bush Doctrine. Sure, there is a lot of history to cover if you consider yourself a novice in South & Central American history, but Grandin fills in the blanks pretty well.

The main lesson learned from this book is provocative and
Justin Evans
I didn't read this very closely after the first two chapters, for reasons that will become obvious, so I apologize to Mr. Grandin if the latter parts of this book are literary masterpieces. But:

there's a great paper in here on how the Bush administration's foreign policy was shaped by the U.S.'s experience in Latin America from the late '70s through to the present. Unfortunately, that's swamped by ridiculous claims (e.g., U.S. troops ignore human rights because they play video games; Christian m
Sep 06, 2008 Ed rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those who want to know about U.S. involvement in Central America
Shelves: central-america
U.S. policy in Latin America has served as a model for actions throughout the world especially the Middle East according to "Empire's Workshop". Unfortunately Greg Grandin doesn't make his point terribly well, although this book can serve an important function as an introduction to the role of the United States in creating and supporting right wing dictatorships, military coups against democratically elected governments and rule by terror.

El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua became, in Grandin'
Demetrius Lindsey
The United States has always believed in practice over theory. Latin America is the practice ground that the U.S. uses to better their ability to be an empire and global power. In this week’s book Empire’s Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of New Imperialism the author demonstrates how the U.S. used Latin America as a testing ground and workshop for the formation of the American Empire. Greg Grandin is the author of the book, he is a professor at New York University and is ...more
Ahmed El
Absolutely brilliant. Grandin makes the compelling case that current policies adopted by the US in the Middle East are only the natural extension of imperialist attitudes and policies adopted in Latin America (most particularly Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua.) My only qualm is I'd have liked to see slightly more focus on the pre-"Good Neighbour Policy" colonization and occupation of Central America and Caribbean Islands.
Michael Brickey
Aug 07, 2008 Michael Brickey rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Michael by: American Empire Project
Grandin does a good job underscoring the hemispheric policies of the US in the last century. His thesis ties the current neo-conservative foreign policy in the Mid-East with that of the Reagan administration's approach to Latin America. He also describes how US efforts toward "economic development" have often led to economic growth, but rarely to development. He does well to introduce the reader to corporate involvement in Latin America and how US policy has worked to preserve and grow corporate ...more
Zach Vaughn
Engaging book, some good information, and an interesting premise; however, the premise seemed underdeveloped because of the narrow focus on the "New Right."
Very interesting read. It's not like any of the history in here is news to me at all, but the frame it's put it is new.

The idea is that the neo-conservative/hyperpower/preemptive foreign policy was first tested in Latin America in the post-Vietnam era, where we more or less always acted according to that policy.

It wakes you up to the reality that a lot of our talk about foreign policy includes a lot of implicit exceptions, and a lot of them include our actions in Latin America.

Americans were ask
Terry Earley
A very disturbing commentary on US treatment of countries in our own hemisphere. Although critical of both Republican and Democratic administrations, Grandin makes sense when he points out that the same neocons who designed and implemented policy in South and Central America were instrumental in US policies toward the Middle East, specifically in the invasion of Iraq.

The concluding chapter is especially damning when conventional wisdom, however false and exaggerated, of our "successes" in democr
Whatever policies the US wanted to impose on the world got their start in Latin America. Maybe this is news to some, to those of us who have lived there pay attention to history and the news, this isn't earth shattering. I'm sort of ambivalent about this book. Maybe Naomi Klein did it better, maybe I've already read a lot of this history so it made the book more of a chore to read than something where I felt I was learning something. Having read Silence on the Mountain, Bitter Fruit, and The Sho ...more
Ashley Cook
one of my favorite books from my undergrad history classes
Eye opening book on what the US has done in Latin America.
A decent overview of why Central and South America has issues with the US. At the same time I can understand why some readers, completely unknowlegeable of Latin America, might get a bit lost.

It is a bit biased, at the same time, it's hard to say the book wasn't fair. Indeed, it could have been much more harsh, but it takes on the difficult task of summarizing 60 plus years of US foreign politics in Latin America. The book definitely inspires me to read more about the various periods and people
Interesting read.
I knew that the US had a hand in many of the violent histories of Latin American countries - but why? This book gets into the motivations behind policy, and how that policy was spun to Americans. It's as horrifying as you'd think, and the creepiest quotes of course are the ones straight from the people promoting the policies themselves. The author's main thesis is showing how the ideas and policies developed in Latin America now permeate national policy, especially in relation to Iraq.
Ben Vogel
There are valid reasons to hate America's imperialist actions and there are valid reasons to distrust that capitalism is a perfect answer. Luckily Grandin is here to lay them all bare. I liked this book. By a long stretch I don't agree with everything he said, and he offers no better alternatives, but there are eye openers in here. I wrote a very detailed review of this book. If I can dredge it up I will post it here.
definitely an interesting book, especially as an overview of US misadventures in LA. but the arguments get pretty weak when he tries to tie in trade and economic policy. it's also very poorly sourced. grandin frequently cites statistics without providing any source at all, and it tends to be the most shocking numbers that aren't supported. he occasionally cites his own books as sources, which I think is a little weak.
Jenny K
This was a very informative book, that really connected our foreign policy through presidents' terms and the Cold War to the War on Terror. I will say this book is a slower read, for me especially, I would read horrific details of what we supported in Latin America, and I would need to take a break from reading. It really had a fascinating insight, to an area of history that I will admit I only knew a bit about.
I am really enjoying this book so far, although I have been reading it for toooo loooong.... and I lost it for like 2 weeks. It's a good resource for US foreign policy; I like Grandin's liberal, critical approach to the subject, but some points could be a little better explained, or seem contradictory. It jumps around a bit, but overall a good read so far. We'll see...
this book was fascinating and disturbing. detailing how much complicity the US has had in the atrocities that have happened in Latin America. this book also delves into how our foreign policy has changed and evolved and how mixed up the religious right is in the government and setting foreign policy. i was shocked by it all, but so glad that i am more educated about it now.
This book was a bit like a very abridged version of The Shock Doctrine. It excoriates U.S. economic and military imperialism and LATAM and argues that practices perfected there were then imported to MENA and domestically. For me much of it was a retread but there was still some worthwhile new info, the additional background on the Contras was interesting.
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Obama, the U.S., and Latin America: Interview with Greg Grandin 1 15 Jun 23, 2009 12:34PM  
Bookshelf: Greg Grandin 1 4 Jun 23, 2009 09:02AM  
  • Latin America: From Colonization to Globalization
  • Killing Hope: U.S. Military and C.I.A. Interventions Since World War II
  • Looking for History: Dispatches from Latin America
  • Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies and the CIA in Central America
  • The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade
  • Reproducing Empire: Race, Sex, Science, and U.S. Imperialism in Puerto Rico
  • Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic
  • Whiteout: The CIA,Drugs and the Press
  • Bitter Fruit: The Story of the American Coup in Guatemala (Latin American Studies)
  • Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq
  • The Art of Political Murder: Who Killed the Bishop?
  • Born in Blood & Fire: A Concise History of Latin America
  • Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide, and the Politics of Containment
  • Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent
  • Inevitable Revolutions: The United States in Central America
  • Empire of Capital
  • A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust & Denial in the Americas 1492 to the Present
  • PR!: A Social History Of Spin
Greg Grandin is the author of Fordlandia, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. A Professor of History at New York University, Grandin has published a number of other award-winning books, including Empire's Workshop, The Last Colonial Massacre, and The Blood of Guatemala.

Toni Morrison called Grandin's new work, The Empire of Necessi
More about Greg Grandin...

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“All told, U.S. allies in Central America during Reagan's two terms killed over 300,000 people, tortured hundreds of thousands, and drove millions into exile.” 2 likes
“In December 1981, the American-trained Atlacatl Battalion began its systemic execution of over 750 civilians in the Salvadoran village of El Mozote, including hundreds of children under the age of 12. The soldiers were thorough and left only one survivor. At first they stabbed and decapitated their victims, but they turned to machine guns when the hacking grew too tiresome (a decade later, an exhumation team digging through the mass graves found hundreds of bullets with head stamps indicating that the ammunition was manufactured in Lake City, Missouri, for the U.S. government).” 1 likes
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