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Shattered Hope: The Guatemalan Revolution and the United States, 1944-1954

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The most thorough account yet available of a revolution that saw the first true agrarian reform in Central America, this book is also a penetrating analysis of the tragic destruction of that revolution. In no other Central American country was U.S. intervention so decisive and so ruinous, charges Piero Gleijeses. Yet he shows that the intervention can be blamed on no The most thorough account yet available of a revolution that saw the first true agrarian reform in Central America, this book is also a penetrating analysis of the tragic destruction of that revolution. In no other Central American country was U.S. intervention so decisive and so ruinous, charges Piero Gleijeses. Yet he shows that the intervention can be blamed on no single convenient villain. Extensively researched and written with conviction and passion, this study analyzes the history and downfall of what seems in retrospect to have been Guatemala's best government, the short-lived regime of Jacobo Arbenz, overthrown in 1954, by a CIA-orchestrated coup.--Foreign Affairs Piero Gleijeses offers a historical road map that may serve as a guide for future generations. . . . [Readers] will come away with an understanding of the foundation of a great historical tragedy.--Saul Landau, The Progressive [Gleijeses's] academic rigor does not prevent him from creating an accessible, lucid, almost journalistic account of an episode whose tragic consequences still reverberate.--Paul Kantz, Commonweal


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The most thorough account yet available of a revolution that saw the first true agrarian reform in Central America, this book is also a penetrating analysis of the tragic destruction of that revolution. In no other Central American country was U.S. intervention so decisive and so ruinous, charges Piero Gleijeses. Yet he shows that the intervention can be blamed on no The most thorough account yet available of a revolution that saw the first true agrarian reform in Central America, this book is also a penetrating analysis of the tragic destruction of that revolution. In no other Central American country was U.S. intervention so decisive and so ruinous, charges Piero Gleijeses. Yet he shows that the intervention can be blamed on no single convenient villain. Extensively researched and written with conviction and passion, this study analyzes the history and downfall of what seems in retrospect to have been Guatemala's best government, the short-lived regime of Jacobo Arbenz, overthrown in 1954, by a CIA-orchestrated coup.--Foreign Affairs Piero Gleijeses offers a historical road map that may serve as a guide for future generations. . . . [Readers] will come away with an understanding of the foundation of a great historical tragedy.--Saul Landau, The Progressive [Gleijeses's] academic rigor does not prevent him from creating an accessible, lucid, almost journalistic account of an episode whose tragic consequences still reverberate.--Paul Kantz, Commonweal

30 review for Shattered Hope: The Guatemalan Revolution and the United States, 1944-1954

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Murtha

    An incredible, evocative read. Gleijeses blurs the line between history and investigative reporting, delivering a clear-eyed account of the rise and fall of Jacobo Arbenz. He lays bare the depths which anti-communist propaganda and corporate kowtowing had rotted the brains of both the American media and government in the 1940s and 1950s, where even the most milquetoast liberal democratic reforms came off as signs of Soviet influence.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ekul

    "They would have overthrown us even if we had grown no bananas."

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    A banana republic tries to gain some autonomy and actually starts to do some wonderful things for the rural Maya, a group every reform seems to miss and eventually ends up paying for others mistakes or indifference. And, as soon as these things start to happen, the United States under the guise of getting rid of this communist beachhead in the Western hemisphere plots and overthrows the president Arbenz. Really the US just gets along better with dictators because they do what is expected of a A banana republic tries to gain some autonomy and actually starts to do some wonderful things for the rural Maya, a group every reform seems to miss and eventually ends up paying for others mistakes or indifference. And, as soon as these things start to happen, the United States under the guise of getting rid of this communist beachhead in the Western hemisphere plots and overthrows the president Arbenz. Really the US just gets along better with dictators because they do what is expected of a Latin American country... put the natural resources at the disposal of foreign companies and keep the masses in line with brutality. It was amazing how familiar the stump speech was of what America would consider a threat to its homeland and how it would endeavor on a pre-emptive strike.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Gordon

    Fairly detailed account of the decade immediately following WW2 during which Guatemala moved towards agrarian reform that smelled too strongly of communism for the US government and dictators in the region leading to the ouster, with considerable US aid (aka Dulles brothers & CIA) of "the best government Guatemala ever had" and a return to serfdom for the natives and good times for those in power, including the military. Sad reading as things are still not much better, and possibly worse 60 Fairly detailed account of the decade immediately following WW2 during which Guatemala moved towards agrarian reform that smelled too strongly of communism for the US government and dictators in the region leading to the ouster, with considerable US aid (aka Dulles brothers & CIA) of "the best government Guatemala ever had" and a return to serfdom for the natives and good times for those in power, including the military. Sad reading as things are still not much better, and possibly worse 60 years on.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chelly

    Great use of historical documents to make the case of Eisenhower's decision to overthrow Arbenz was due to fear of communism spreading to the Western hemipshere more than the desire of United Fruit Company of Boston Mass.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bree

    Good narrative about history of Guatemala in the 40-60s. Devestatingly depressing about American FoPo.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rhuff

    Overall, Piero Gleijeses has done an excellent job in his post-mortem analysis of the murdered Guatemalan Revolution of Jacobo Arbenz. Mr. Gleijeses' other works are also of equally excellent caliber. Here comes the however: I disagree with his conclusion, that the US' primary motive in doing so was cold war anti-Communism, pure and simple, rather than an expedient excuse for defending the United Fruit Company; that the US would have overthrown Arbenz' Revolutionary Action regime even if Overall, Piero Gleijeses has done an excellent job in his post-mortem analysis of the murdered Guatemalan Revolution of Jacobo Arbenz. Mr. Gleijeses' other works are also of equally excellent caliber. Here comes the however: I disagree with his conclusion, that the US' primary motive in doing so was cold war anti-Communism, pure and simple, rather than an expedient excuse for defending the United Fruit Company; that the US would have overthrown Arbenz' Revolutionary Action regime even if Guatemala "had had no bananas." This is too one dimensional. I hold that Schlesinger and Kinzer's take in "Bitter Fruit" is much more on the mark. Gleijeses' conclusion only begs the question, as it was unlikely a revolutionary movement would have arisen in the first place without the Fruit Company's massive holdings and equally massive bribery of the Guatemalan government and military. By Gleijeses' own account UFCo was in on the counter-revolution from inception. The presence of Communists per se in the Arbenz government - though important - seems more excuse than reason. Leftists were also present in the National Revolutionary Movement regime in Bolivia following that country's revolution in '52. The discrepancy in reaction between the two smacks of schizophrenia, until one takes a closer look. The Bolivian MNR nationalized the tin mines, with their heavy US investment, but in turn agreed on compensation, to open its markets to US imports, and finally to a neo-liberal bank-friendly stabilization program in 1957. Guatemala, however, began a program of import-substitution, would not compensate UFCo on the company's terms, and - perhaps most importantly - spurned the strings attached to US aid as a form of bribery. Obviously, only avowed Marxist-Leninists could cop such an attitude to US trade, aid and investment; hence US Ambassador Puerifoy's convenient dodge on the land issue by insisting on the Red Menace within the Guatemalan government. Schlesinger and Kinzer very thoroughly detailed the links between UFCo, the State Department of John Foster Dulles, and Dulles' partnership with UFCo's Boston attorneys, Sullivan and Cromwell. Guatemala's Communists were not doctrinaire Leninists, instead advocating political and social democracy as their country's only viable program. Such was the real menace in Guatemala. One might as justly state Arbenz would have been overthrown even if there had been no Communists. This anti-democratic hysteria engendered from Washington spoke much more of the US military-corporate state of mind than on the real state of Guatemala under Arbenz. For this reason I must whack off a rating star on Mr. Gleijeses' otherwise excellent forensic study.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bernardo

    This day in history in 1944, Juan José Arévalos became the first democratically elected president of Guatemala, inaugurating a period that became known as the Ten Years of Spring. This era of profound social transformation and political openness was brutally interrupted 10 years later in the CIA-orchestrated coup against Jacobo Árbenz. "Shattered Hope: The Guatemalan Revolution and the United States, 1944-1954," by Piero Gleijeses, professor at Johns Hopkins University, is the most thoroughly This day in history in 1944, Juan José Arévalos became the first democratically elected president of Guatemala, inaugurating a period that became known as the Ten Years of Spring. This era of profound social transformation and political openness was brutally interrupted 10 years later in the CIA-orchestrated coup against Jacobo Árbenz. "Shattered Hope: The Guatemalan Revolution and the United States, 1944-1954," by Piero Gleijeses, professor at Johns Hopkins University, is the most thoroughly researched account of this tragic history whose consequences still linger to this day. The country would be mired in violence, inequality, underdevelopment and corruption afterwards and is yet to have a popular government like those of Arévalos and Árbenz.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Abe

    A "red" or "pink" interpretation of the fall of the Guatemalan government of Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán. It reads like a survey but it's nonetheless a strong monograph.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Denise Senmartin

    another masterpiece of Gleijeses

  11. 4 out of 5

    Farah

  12. 4 out of 5

    Markus

  13. 4 out of 5

    Randy

  14. 4 out of 5

    Marissa

  15. 5 out of 5

    E

  16. 4 out of 5

    Betsy

  17. 5 out of 5

    Drew Blake

  18. 4 out of 5

    Beth

  19. 5 out of 5

    Hilda

  20. 5 out of 5

    Oliver

  21. 4 out of 5

    Anne Fano

  22. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mari

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kate

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ashley B

  26. 4 out of 5

    mick winnett

  27. 4 out of 5

    David Ferrandiz

  28. 5 out of 5

    Wilzon Mateo

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Bell

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sean

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