Empire's Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism
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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  ·  363 ratings  ·  40 reviews
An eye-opening examination of Latin America's role as proving ground for U.S. imperial strategies and tactics

In recent years, one book after another has sought to take the measure of the Bush administration's aggressive foreign policy. In their search for precedents, they invoke the Roman and British empires as well as postwar reconstructions of Germany and Japan. Yet they...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published May 2nd 2006 by Metropolitan Books (first published 2006)
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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.
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...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...more
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...more
Sep 06, 2008 Ed rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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'...more
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
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
Michael Brickey
Aug 07, 2008 Michael Brickey rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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...more
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...more
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
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...more
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.
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.
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.
Jose Palafox
If you like this, you might also want to check out:

Marie-Monique Robin, “Counterinsurgency and Torture: Exporting Torture Tactics from Indochina and Algeria to Latin America.” In: Torture: Does it Make Us Safer? Is it Ever OK? A Human Rights Perspective eds. Kenneth Roth et al. with Human Rights Watch (New York: New Press, 2005): 44-54.
Carlos Alonso-Niemeyer
My brother in law recommended this book. Dificult to digest because it paints a grim and realistic picture of the involvement of the US in Latin America. Very well written and eye oppening.
Not for the faint of heart. Good stories and sometimes frustrating to hear how we messed up our policies in these countries.
A disturbing criticism of U.S. intervention, both public and covert, in Latin American affairs. Focuses on the use of military invasion and training in the shaping of regime politics and economic destabilization. States that Iraq does not have the same situational future as Latin America.
Feroz Hameed
The content of this book, makes justice to the Title of this book in every sense.
A must read on how American greed for resources and market takes them on War footing every single time (no matter who is in Congress)from the WWII to present day Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tracy Bassett
Last chapters on economics make this particularly worth the read - concise and clear. The first half is somewhat repetitive - same stories, different settings, lots of support... although sometimes at the price of pace. 4 stars regardless - enjoyed overall.
This book is intensely packed with well-referenced information. I wish it were longer and elaborated but it serves as a great summary of US foreign policy in Latin America foiled to recent foreign policy in the Middle East.
Great book for history of the U.S. in Latin America... but the final chapter(s) center on critiquing Bush and the US war in Iraq as opposed to contempary imperialism in Latin America.
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Obama, the U.S., and Latin America: Interview with Greg Grandin 1 13 Jun 23, 2009 12:34PM  
Bookshelf: Greg Grandin 1 4 Jun 23, 2009 09:02AM  
  • Killing Hope: U.S. Military and C.I.A. Interventions Since World War II
  • Latin America: From Colonization to Globalization
  • The Heart That Bleeds: Latin America Now
  • The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade
  • Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic
  • Bitter Fruit: The Story of the American Coup in Guatemala (Latin American Studies)
  • Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq
  • Born in Blood & Fire: A Concise History of Latin America
  • Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent
  • The Tragedy of American Diplomacy
  • Silence on the Mountain: Stories of Terror, Betrayal, and Forgetting in Guatemala
  • Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam
  • Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War, and the Roots of Terror
  • The Vietnam Wars 1945-1990
  • Our Word is Our Weapon: Selected Writings
  • A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust & Denial in the Americas 1492 to the Present
  • Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History
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
More about Greg Grandin...
Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World The Last Colonial Massacre: Latin America in the Cold War The Blood of Guatemala: A History of Race and Nation A Century of Revolution: Insurgent and Counterinsurgent Violence during Latin America's Long Cold War

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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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