Latin America experienced an epochal cycle of revolutionary upheavals and insurgencies during the twentieth century, from the Mexican Revolution of 1910 through the mobilizations and terror in Central America, the Southern Cone, and the Andes during the 1970s and 1980s. In his introduction to A Century of Revolution, Greg Grandin argues that the dynamics of political violence and terror in Latin America are so recognizable in their enforcement of domination, their generation and maintenance of social exclusion, and their propulsion of historical change, that historians have tended to take them for granted, leaving unexamined important questions regarding their form and meaning. The essays in this groundbreaking collection take up these questions, providing a sociologically and historically nuanced view of the ideological hardening and accelerated polarization that marked Latin America’s twentieth century. Attentive to the interplay among overlapping local, regional, national, and international fields of power, the contributors focus on the dialectical relations between revolutionary and counterrevolutionary processes and their unfolding in the context of U.S. hemispheric and global hegemony. Through their fine-grained analyses of events in Chile, Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Peru, they suggest a framework for interpreting the experiential nature of political violence while also analyzing its historical causes and consequences. In so doing, they set a new agenda for the study of revolutionary change and political violence in twentieth-century Latin America. Contributors Michelle Chase Jeffrey L. Gould Greg Grandin Lillian Guerra Forrest Hylton Gilbert M. Joseph Friedrich Katz Thomas Miller Klubock Neil Larsen Arno J. Mayer Carlota McAllister Jocelyn Olcott Gerardo Rénique Corey Robin Peter Winn
After decades of bloodshed and political terror, many lament the rise of the left in Latin America. Since the triumph of Castro, politicians and historians have accused the left there of rejecting democracy, embracing communist totalitarianism, and prompting both revolutionary violence and a right-wing backlash. Through unprecedented archival research and gripping personal testimonies, Greg Grandin powerfully challenges these views in this classic work. In doing so, he uncovers the hidden history of the Latin American Cold War: of hidebound reactionaries holding on to their power and privilege; of Mayan Marxists blending indigenous notions of justice with universal ideas of equality; and of a United States supporting new styles of state terror throughout the region. With Guatemala as his case study, Grandin argues that the Latin American Cold War was a struggle not between political liberalism and Soviet communism but two visions of democracy—one vibrant and egalitarian, the other tepid and unequal—and that the conflict’s main effect was to eliminate homegrown notions of social democracy. Updated with a new preface by the author and an interview with Naomi Klein, The Last Colonial Massacre is history of the highest order—a work that will dramatically recast our understanding of Latin American politics and the role of the United States in the Cold War and beyond. “This work admirably explains the process in which hopes of democracy were brutally repressed in Guatemala and its people experienced a civil war lasting for half a century.”—International History Review “A richly detailed, humane, and passionately subversive portrait of inspiring reformers tragically redefined by the Cold War as enemies of the state.”—Journal of American History
Public violence, a persistent feature of Latin American life since the collapse of Iberian rule in the 1820s, has been especially prominent in Central America. Robert H. Holden shows how public violence shaped the states that have governed Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Linking public violence and patrimonial political cultures, he shows how the early states improvised their authority by bargaining with armed bands or montoneras. Improvisation continued into the twentieth century as the bands were gradually superseded by semi-autonomous national armies, and as new agents of public violence emerged in the form of armed insurgencies and death squads. World War II, Holden argues, set into motion the globalization of public violence. Its most dramatic manifestation in Central America was the surge in U.S. military and police collaboration with the governments of the region, beginning with the Lend-Lease program of the 1940s and continuing through the Cold War. Although the scope of public violence had already been established by the people of the Central American countries, globalization intensified the violence and inhibited attempts to shrink its scope. Drawing on archival research in all five countries as well as in the United States, Holden elaborates the connections among the national, regional, and international dimensions of public violence. Armies Without Nations crosses the borders of Central American, Latin American, and North American history, providing a model for the study of global history and politics. Armies without Nations was a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title for 2005.