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Killing Hope: U.S. Military and C.I.A. Interventions Since World War II

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  1,578 ratings  ·  87 reviews
Is the United States a force for democracy? In this classic and unique volume that answers this question, William Blum serves up a forensic overview of U.S. foreign policy spanning sixty years. For those who want the details on our most famous actions (Chile, Cuba, Vietnam, to name a few), and for those who want to learn about our lesser-known efforts (France, China, Boliv ...more
Paperback, Updated Edition, 500 pages
Published October 1st 2008 by Common Courage Press (first published March 1st 1995)
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Average rating 4.19  · 
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 ·  1,578 ratings  ·  87 reviews

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Aug 29, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Terence by: Letter in Sept 1/8 issue of The Nation
Killing Hope should be read in tandem with Tim Weiner's Legacy of Ashes. Legacy is the more polished, unified and better argued account of the internal history of the CIA; Killing Hope is a collection of case studies of the miserable repercussions of the CIA in action -- a relentlessly grim and unjustifiable roll call of murder, rape, torture, subversion of democracy and pointless war.

All the tactics that the second Bush Administration has used openly for the last eight years have been part and
Feb 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
The only reason I don't give this book 5 stars is the author gets a little carried away in his commentary. Not that he is inaccurate, only that the book would be more powerful with less sarcasm, deserved though that sarcasm may be.

Killing Hope proves beyond a doubt that the United States of America is the unchallenged leader of hypocrisy in the world. And that title is well earned to the present time.

Presidents, Secretaries of State and Defense, department spokespersons, and all manner of govern
Jun 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
THE book on US foreign policy since World War II (aka White War II). Blum covers 50+ US covert and overt interventions. Extremely well researched and footnoted. Will shatter many of the myths that Americans believe, even those who "just don't believe" the establishment side. Will provide the reader with the factual basis for demonstrating that the US is not in the business of overthrowing democracy.

Some tidbits from the book:

Did you know that the Bush Administration knew that Saddam Hussein was
Brian Napoletano
Oct 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Goodreads' goofy interface erased my review so I'll give the condensed version this time. Blum's central thesis is that the US government, primarily through the CIA and military, has inflicted suffering, death, and oppression on people around the world whose only crime was to try to govern themselves without interference from Washington. From 1943 to 2003, every US president has been complicit in moral atrocities that, if they were undertaken by an enemy state against the US or one of its client ...more
Neither a thorough history of US foreign policy in general nor a rigorous examination of the CIA in particular, but rather a case study approach to 50 or so cold war interventions by the US, with appendices regarding interventions since the 18th century. Has a committed leftwing perspective.

Sep 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
An essential read for any US Citizen. Unfortunately, few of us will read it.
Randall Wallace
Sep 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The least bloody way for the U.S. to have fought the Cold War would have been to support all oppressed people “yearning to be free” in their fight for independence/democracy, instead of invading them. This book is a long ledger of just the U.S. crimes committed against other countries since WWII. After spending time in America, Ho Chi Minh wanted to imitate the U.S. and declared all Vietnamese equal in 1945 – he even wrote the state department and Truman eight friendship letters but we totally s ...more
Feb 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If you think you have a good grasp of history and US foreign policy, read this book to see how you may not have been told/taught the entire story. This book chronicles US intervention, always in the name of 'peace, democracy, and human rights' in countries all over the globe. Ostensibly the US was fighting communism (now terrorism); the reality is that it was in support of corporatism. Meticulously researched (although I thought there were some assertions that should have had an end note), this ...more
Feb 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: war, non-fiction
An ugly, truthful, no holds barred report on the actions the US Military and CIA have taken on world interestes since WWII. Astounding, hardly believable, this is depressing but essential reading.
Chris Chester
Nov 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
A systematic chronicle of more than 50 documented U.S. interventions into the affairs of countries across the globe, including but not limited to China, Italy, Germany, The Philippines, Korea, Albania, Iran, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Syria, Indonesia, British Guiana, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Haiti, France, Ecuador, Congo, Brazil, Peru, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Gana, Uruguay, Chile, Greece, Bolivia, Iraq, Australia, Angola, Zaire, Jamaica, Grenada, Morocco, Suriname, Libya, Nicaragua, Panama.

May 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, history
You don't have to be a popular, democratically elected government to be overthrown by the CIA - but it helps. In the years since WWII the CIA has developed an impressive and effective playbook, one that they have refined through long practice, designed specifically to oust elected leaders considered unfriendly to US business interests.

In this book, Blum walks us through the 50 or so coups, political manipulation, and invasions engineered by the CIA and by the US military in countries in every re
Jesse Taylor
Dec 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The number of atrocities committed by the CIA and US military since WWII is so large that the author was only able to dedicate a few pages to each of their largest-scale interventions here. Blum covers everything from US collaboration with fascists & mobsters in post-war Italy, to the CIA installing brutal dictators in Guatemala and Iran, to US-backed death squads in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Indonesia ... While brief, Blum's summaries of these events are very useful as a launching point for m ...more
John Petersen
Should be mandatory reading in all US high school history classes.
Nick Backas
Aug 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
This took me a long time to finish as I kept getting pulled down rabbit holes on Wikipedia searching for more background context to the events described in this book. Not a breezy read or a necessarily enjoyable one, but an outstanding, authoritative collection of postwar US atrocities, and one that I would recommend to anyone.

While this is primarily a collection of primary and secondary sources, the overarching thesis, delved into most thoroughly in the introduction and conclusion of the book,
More of a list than a cohesive narrative, but much better researched and more engaging than Weiner's Legacy of Ashes. ...more
Apr 12, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: did-not-finish
Well the only reason I am giving this book 3 stars is because of the wealth of information that it contains about US interventionism since the 50s. Every turn of the page I was learning something new. That being said each chapter is a different place, different people, at a different time, but the same story. The info about vietnam and cuba was interesting, but after 300ish pages of reading about how a left leaning liberal was democratically elected and subsequently overthrown via CIA backed cou ...more
Rachel Archelaus
Dec 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: school
This book is so important! If you aren't aware of how the US government works behind the scenes regarding foreign policy, you MUST read this book. It was a complete eye opener and I will never think of this country the same way. Blum does a great job of relaying the facts while making the read enjoyable. There are some tough moments, though. Very real, very necessary to know. ...more
Dec 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Killing Hope is an essential read if you are curious about how our nation came to be- a second birth dating from the end of WWII in 1945. It is a summary of the atrocities that have taken place in foreign countries and sheds light on the contradictions and hypocrisy of our own government.
Jun 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
I feel like being William Blum in real life must be tough. Though he arrived at his position by a multitude of baby steps, his overarching worldview seems so radical that he will likely never gain a wide following. Oh well.
Aug 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting read, although it often came off as a shopping list of the CIA's dirty deeds. Given the present controversy with Putin et al, it is interesting to see how far the US leaders were willing to go to get a government they could work with into a foreign state. ...more
Brett Dulle
Sep 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a survey all major U.S. interventions abroad, and it's goal is basically to exhaustingly document U.S. abuses of power abroad. While conservatives may argue that the U.S. was justified (I think falsely), in many cases it is hard to argue with the facts documented in the book. The book is well cited, and uses official CIA reports, interviews with former CIA agents, contemporary newspaper articles, etc. The only problem I had with the citations is that, if he cites a newspaper article ...more
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. Have you ever wondered why America is not universally revered as beacon of freedom of civil rights? After all, we were taught in school that we are the greatest democracy the world has ever known; that whatever we do it right and just. Looking through the lens of truth, however, it's clear that most of our history texts were whitewashed to remove any blemishes that could tarnish the idea of American exceptionalism. In Killing Hope, Blum examines over fifty instances of CIA and U.S. mi ...more
Carson Stones
Dec 30, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book could have been so good but William Blum desperately needed a better editor. The whole book reads like an extended series of blog posts from the 90s without any kind of unifying storyline to pull it all together. While the table of contents for Killing Hope is the best summary I've come across for US interventions around the world since 1945 and the appendix of US military interventions since 1798 is essential reading, I would strongly recommend supplementing this book with other histo ...more
Daniel Sessions
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Here is a veritable bible of overwhelming evidence from mainstream sources that the major purpose of U.S. military and intelligence operations has been to keep the world safe for capitalism. Dozens of violent U.S. interventions throughout the globe are shown to be automatic responses to developing nations' attempts at breaking free of corporate control.
The classic cases of Iran '53, Guatemala '54, and Chile '73 provide the model. Western corporate dominance of a nation's oil or fruit or mineral
Stephen Hunsaker
Feb 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
I would give this a 3.5. The content is hauntingly extraordinary, the layout is quite flawed.

This book outlines in detail the vile doings of the CIA all in the name of ‘democracy’. What the CIA did for decades across the entire globe are nothing short of un-democratic war crimes. They perpetrated terror and violence, removing duly elected officials and replacing them with dictators and tyrants. America really started their colonization of the world after WWII. And why? To stop communism, they w
May 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Definitely a must-read for anyone who may be "on the fence" about whether the US is a force for good around the world, and for understanding the central role that anti-communist fervor has played in justifying the atrocities we've committed across the globe. My only issue is that all pieces of evidence in the book are stated as if they are confirmed fact, whereas maybe ~25% of them are based on highly questionable politically-motivated confessions/testimony from people involved in atrocities. Th ...more
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly and painstakingly researched and referenced. This book takes the reader on a daunting, detailed explanation of US foreign interventions beginning immediately at the end of WW2. Not for the faint of heart. If you ever feel the need to understand the underlying reasons for US interventions read this book. The history/stories you were taught in your high-school/college education will fall apart. You may or may not appreciate the information presented in this book.
James Hamber
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant book
Not the easiest book to read cover to cover as the subject is brutal, hard hitting, and relentless, I would highly recommend this book to anyone, however.
It really shows you the extent of the USA’s influence in other countries.
A must read book for people who are already interested and those who are wondering if the human situation really is as bad as some people say it is… it is, or at least this is the way this author tells it.
Kelbaenor (Dan)
Nov 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Without reading Killing Hope, or other books like it, it is impossible to understand the way the US has shaped the world over the last 75 years. After reading Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Open Veins of Latin America, and Killing Hope, it is hard to come up with a time in US history when it was not actively engaged in a war and/or genocide somewhere. In the future the Cold War should be called the long American holocaust, or something similar that better describes the horrors the US inflicted, ...more
Haris Niazi
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Mr. Blum did quite a remarkable job in documenting American interventions throughout the world including both the well known (Korea, Vietnam) and many lesser known interventions. The book is an interesting read and the author doesn't indulge in repetition (that usually is the case while making a point) throughout the book. ...more
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Jewish-American writer and critic of US foreign policy.

William Blum got wide media coverage, when his book "Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower" was recommended by Osama Bin Laden in a speech.

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“In summing up the affair in his memoirs, president Eisenhower seemed to settle upon one rationale in particular, and this is probably the closest to the truth of the matter. This was to put the world—and specifically the Soviet Union and Nasser—on notice that the United States had virtually unlimited power, that this power could be transported to any corner of the world with great speed, that it could and would be used to deal decisively with any situation with which the United States was dissatisfied, for whatever reason.” 2 likes
“In a visit to San Salvador in February 1989, Vice President Dan Quayle told army leaders that death squad killings and other human rights violations attributed to the military had to be ended. Ten days later, the US-trained Atlacatl Battalion—which was believed to have a US trainer assigned to it at all times—attacked a guerrilla field hospital, killing at least ten people, including five patients, a doctor and a nurse, and raping at least two of the female victims before shooting them.” 2 likes
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