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The Banana Wars: United States Intervention in the Caribbean, 1898-1934 (Latin American Silhouettes) Paperback – 1 Nov 2001

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers; 2Rev Ed edition (1 Nov. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0842050477
  • ISBN-13: 978-0842050470
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,494,687 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


We are bombarded today by ill-founded polemics written by instant specialists on the Central American Caribbean areas, and--perhaps needlessly--I would stress that Langley's work is careful and it is fair. It will make the handiest of supplemental readings.--Hispanic American Historical Review

Recounting the history of the American 'empire' in the Caribbean Basin, the author stresses that the United States failed not so much because of the use of force (the whoe undertaking was rather reluctant at best), but because of cultural and psychological realities.--Foreign Affairs

Brings a sharper focus to the military's role in U.S. foreign policy in the early twentieth century.--Military Review

This book not only provides a pithy review of American intentions and heavy-handedness, it explains how a failed interventionist policy led to our propensity to back national dictators who promised to maintain order and respect for American lives and property. The United States did not fail because it suffered from indecisiveness or a lack or ardor, but because it could not effectively rule such conquered places.--Foreign Service Journal

A well-researched survey of U.S. diplomatic and military intervention in Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and NIcaragua between 1900 and 1934. . . . Langley's volume is a much-needed work on this area.--CHOICE

In The Banana Wars, Lester D. Langley examines the activities of the U.S. armed forces in the Caribbean between 1900 and 1934. Liberally sprinkled with anecdotes and colorful details, the narrative is readable . . . and the book gives a lively sense of who its actors were and what they did.--American Historical Review

The Banana Wars is not only good history, it is also a document of some significance. It introduces into the body of liberal historiography an analysis of American hegemony in the Caribbean derived from a framework of imperialism. Langley moves the issue of American imperialism beyond the realm of the problematical and polemical to a place of prominence in mainstream literature.--Pacific Historical Review


The Banana Wars: United States Intervention in the Caribbean, 1898-1934 offers a sweeping panorama of America's tropical empire in the age spanned by the two Roosevelts and a detailed narrative of U.S. military intervention in the Caribbean and Mexico. In this new edition, Professor Langley provides an updated introduction, placing the scholarship in current historical context. From the perspective of the Americans involved, the empire carved out by the banana warriors was a domain of bickering Latin American politicians, warring tropical countries, and lawless societies that the American military had been dispatched to police and tutor. Beginning with the Cuban experience, Langley examines the motives and consequences of two military occupations and the impact of those interventions on a professedly antimilitaristic American government and on its colonial agents in the Caribbean, the American military. The result of the Cuban experience, Langley argues, was reinforcement of the view that the American people did not readily accept prolonged military occupation of Caribbean countries.

In Nicaragua and Mexico, from 1909 to 1915, where economic and diplomatic pressures failed to bring the results desired in Washington, the American military became the political arbiters; in Hispaniola, bluejackets and marines took on the task of civilizing the tropics. In the late 1920s, with an imperial force largely of marines, the American military waged its last banana war in Nicaragua against a guerrilla leader named Augusto C. Sandino. Langley not only narrates the history of America's tropical empire, but fleshes out the personalities of this imperial era, including Leonard Wood and Fred Funston, U.S. Army, who left their mark on Cuba and Vera Cruz; William F. Fullam and William Banks Caperton, U.S. Navy, who carried out their missions imbued with old-school beliefs about their role as policemen in disorderly places; Smedley Butler and L.W.T. Waller, Sr., U.S.M.C., who left the most lasting imprint of American empire; and dozens of Caribbean and Mexican political figures caught up in America's tropical experiment. Finally, the author speaks to current debates about unrest and conflict in the Caribbean with some disturbing reminders about earlier American experiences.

A lively survey of a volatile period in inter-American relations, The Banana Wars is an excellent supplemental text for courses in Latin American history and U.S.-Latin American relations.

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