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Red Heat: Conspiracy, Murder, and the Cold War in the Caribbean

4.2 of 5 stars 4.20  ·  rating details  ·  169 ratings  ·  28 reviews
The Caribbean crises of the Cold War are revealed as never before in this riveting story of clashing ideologies, the rise of the politics of fear, the machinations of superpowers, and the brazen daring of the mavericks who took them on

During the presidencies of Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson, the Caribbean was in crisis. The men responsible included, from Cuba, the chari
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published March 29th 2011 by Henry Holt and Co.
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A well-written, lively and colorful account of the Cold War in Latin America. Well-researched, Tunzelmann shows how the US involved itself in the region, how it backed various unsavory characters in order to fight communism and how it plotted to overthrow leaders just as unsavory.

Throughout the 1950s, the Soviets showed little interest in Latin America (in fact, between 1943 and 1955, the KGB made zero payments to communist parties in the region). And few Latin American politicians described th
Paul Wilson
Engaging read on America's (mostly) bone-headed Latin American foreign policy during the height of the Cold War. In supporting thuggish dictators like Batista, Trujillo, and Duvalier, the CIA and State Departments created perfect environments for communist uprisings that they were ostensibly trying to prevent.

I was surprised to learn that Castro was not a full-blown communist when he seized power in Cuba. His brother Raul and Che Guerva were the real believers, but Fidel was initially more of a
Oct 30, 2011 Adrian added it
The impressive new author Alex Von Tunzelman who wrote 'Indian Summer' about the end of the British raj has written very well here too. This time she tackles the four cornered story of cold war relations between the US, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Haiti. Lots of anecdotal history here I didn't know. The book is very good on relationship between Castro and Che Guevara and takes an interesting tack on the Cuban missile crisis looking at it from a Cuban point of view. The point is certainly well m ...more
Manish Vaidya
Epic, sweeping & meticulously researched saga of the tumultuous 20th century history of the Caribbean islands. Alex puts in lot of hard work in writing the history for her readers. And it shows. Also I love the fact that she is able to bring out the human nature of the historical figures, instead of just making them dry caricatures. We are all human and sometimes it best to understand history within the context of the frailties and pitfalls of human nature. The sequence describing the tantru ...more
Pete daPixie
Alex Von Tunzelmann is becoming a regular U.K. t.v. figure covering historical matters and has recently had her 'Indian Summers' serialised. 'Red Heat'(2011) is a very recommended study of the United States' political machinations in the Caribbean through the 20th century, in relation to Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
The author has done extensive research in the U.S. Library of Congress, the Department of State and the U.S. National Archives as well as a large number of publications ref
'One of the most ridiculous things that has occurred in the history of the United States.'

This was how, looking back at the incident, Fidel Castro described the abortive invasion at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba in March 1961, planned and funded by Jack Kennedy and his officials in an attempt to topple a revolutionary government that was still little more than two years old. It was certainly ridiculous, leading to Kennedy's temporary humiliation, but was only one of multiple examples of US blundering,
Adeyinka Makinde
Two things come to mind after reading Alex Von Tunzelman’s gripping tale of United States decades cum centuries-long foreign policy towards its neighbours in the Caribbean. First is the overly used truism attributed to the philosopher George Santayana that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”, and secondly, the “Ugly American”, a catchphrase derived from a 1950s-era novel penned jointly by Eugene Burdick and William J. Lederer.

That the policies and actions of the Unite
I was born in the Finland of the 1960s and went through school in the seventies. All that time I was taught that Cuba is more Soviet than the Soviet Union and that nothing will ever separate the two.

Then I read this book, a very good one-volume history of foreign relations in the Caribbean. The author begins by describing the path of the central countries from the 19th century to the early 20th and she sets the stage very clearly. While I was aware that the fates of people in those island states
Rachel G.
This is by far the best non-fiction account I've read of the Cold War in the Caribbean, with some of the most fascinating and horrifying details that I didn't find in my college textbooks. I thought I knew a lot about the period, especially in Cuba and the Dominican Republic, but I learned so much that I finally feel like a have a full grasp on the subject. I also learned a huge amount about the Duvalier period in Haiti, and it was actually worse than I had originally learned. There are some thi ...more
It only took me 7 months. But I finished it.

I didn't hide this review for spoilers, as all I mention is of course, History that can be considered to be 'common knowledge'. (If you do not wish to be aware of the consequences of US intervention overseas, you shouldn't have voted Bush. Ooh, satire)

Over the course of three presidencies, the US intervened, or did not intervene, in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti. Tunzelmann's tale of these countries over the course of the Cold War is gripping
Dorian Santiago
Wow. Alex von Tunzelmann not only provided a well-researched and well-crafted historical account of so many atrocities that were happening in Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Haiti during the Cold War period, but also a powerful narrative that was aided greatly by her succinct, empathetic, and sometimes even humorous input throughout this great book. She was also righteously critical of the United States' enablement of the tragic regimes that took place at the time, all while presenting clear conne ...more
Matthew Griffiths
An engaging account of the battle for freedom in the Caribbean during the cold war. The book focusses on the complex relationships between the US, Haiti, Cuba and the Dominican republic and demonstrates ultimately the first nation of the hemispheres doomed approach in preventing revolutions from sweeping through its back yard.

Its not often that I find myself laughing at anecdotes found in history books but this was well written and quite funny in parts, helped along by a coherent narrative that
Bill Higley
Red Heat is a fascinating read of the Cold War era events and struggle for power and money in the Caribbean Island nations-- mainly Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. One impressive feature of the book is the comprehensive research shown by the author, Alex Van Tunzelmann. She does a great job of taking the tedious and making it interesting and informative. She gives enough detail to explain, but not so much as to bore the interested reader.

For those of us old enough to remember--and/or ca
Dustin Gaughran
This was a good, thorough history of the cold war in the Caribbean. It centers on Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and the United States relationship with all three nations. It's very well researched, and does a great job showing how the U.S. was so ridiculously afraid of communism that it lent aid and support to ruthless dictators in Haiti and the D.R. simply because they played with that fear. This history was upsetting more than anything else, because American foreign policy hasn't gotten ...more
Antonio Nunez
Jul 23, 2013 Antonio Nunez rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who cares about US interventionism in Latin America
The author does a very good job in summarizing the Caribbean experience in the 1950s and 1960s, with focus on Cuba, Dominican Republic and Haiti. The Cuban story is already fairly well-known, but the Haitian Papa Doc catastrophe was a revelation. Also, the Dominican story post-Trujillo was also news to me, particularly the very incompetent reaction of the US to a legitimate insurrection in 1965. The US tendency to see everything in terms of pro- or anti-Communism was very revealing, and its cons ...more
I almost returned this to the library after the first 50 pages because her early historical transitions were awkward and confusing, and the writing felt contrived. Glad I didn't give up. Her treatment of 20th century US policy in the Caribbean by placing Haiti, Cuba and the Dominican Republic side-by-side in cronologic sequence was just what I had been hoping for. She may not have presented any new information, but the inclusive perspective made it worth reading.
Raimo Wirkkala
A compelling, eye-openingly informative and entertaining account of the political and military meddling, mostly American, in Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Ms von Tunzelmann takes some of the edge of this sobering history with her oft-times cheeky perspective. The extensive bibliography has led me to other works regarding the people, places and events covered in this highly readable history book.
Dan Beaver
There is a definite agenda at play with this book, to prove how misguided American foreign policy was in the Cold War Caribbean. Whether that is in fact true or inaccurate requires further reading/study, but the book itself is well-written and apparently researched. It is worth picking up, but—of course—opinions should not be based on any one book of history.
Incredibly well-written history that manages to make a complex (and depressing) set of events coherent, readable, and relevant. Very helpful in understanding the forces that shaped U.S. foreign policy and practice in the 20th century. Politically and morally astute.
Excellent insight into the development of Communism in the Caribbean: basically, lots of missed opportunities on the part of the U.S. If it hadn't been for paranoia and bad intelligence, it might be a different world.
Very good beginning to a story most Americans do not know. The book never lives up to its early promise - it never gets to the BIG picture and gets lost in an endless tale of this and that happened - sad.
Fascinating topic! Really interesting modern history of the Caribbean and how it was influenced by the rest of the world. A nice compliment to Havana Nocturne.
Concise and comprehensive, well informed, great read. Couldn't put it down.
Dennis Willingham
Great overview of Carib. politics and Castro's rise to power.
Watch for the upcoming review in Geez magazine.
Good. Sweeping and informative.
Jul 12, 2012 Zeerak is currently reading it
Just started. will update this later.
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