Cover image for The banana wars : a history of United States military intervention in Latin America from the Spanish-American War to the invasion of Panama
The banana wars : a history of United States military intervention in Latin America from the Spanish-American War to the invasion of Panama
Musicant, Ivan, 1943-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Macmillan, 1990.
Physical Description:
470 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Format :


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Item Holds
F1418 .M96 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Musicant traces the history of U.S. military in~volvement in Latin America from the Spanish-American War to the invasion of Grenada. His account of the combat and political intrigue these so-called banana wars engendered is entertaining enough and curiously lacking in controversy. That lack of controversy is no mean feat: after all, this is a subject with the proven capability to provoke ideological ravings of the most extreme sort. If anything, Musicant errs on the side of a kind of grimly determined neutrality, with just an occasional dash of sardonic insight to spice things up. One sometimes longs for the more zesty approach taken by certain British historians, who often seem to revel in the heroics and wickedness that characterized many of their nation's imperial adventures. The book also suffers from its having been written before the 1989 invasion of Panama--to date, the last of the banana wars. Still, this is a worthwhile book on an intrinsically fascinating period. Notes, bibliography; to be indexed. --Steve Weingartner

Publisher's Weekly Review

Musicant's anecdote-studded survey of U.S. interventions in Central America and the Caribbean clearly establishes the differences between Dollar Diplomacy, which transformed some of the target nations to economic vassalship, and the justified interventions that saved others from collapse. The 19-year occupation of Haiti, for instance, was the most prosperous and stable period in that nation's history, he shows. The 1927 intervention in Nicaragua, on the other hand, was unnecessary from both strategic and economic standpoints and ``drew the opprobrium of even the military personnel involved.'' Musicant ( Battleship at War ) discusses the political, economic and strategic background of the interventions in Panama, Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Grenada, then turns his narrative skills to the military operations that dominated each episode. His concluding chapter on the December 1989 invasion of Panama is the most complete and clarifying account to date. Photos. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Given recent events in Central America and the Caribbean, this is a good time for a general popular history of overt U.S. military intercession since 1898. Musicant is a naval historian, and this work concentrates on the military aspects, with enough political background to make it meaningful. Oddly, there is only one regional map. There is no attempt to cover the privately led filibustering expeditions nor the various instances of U.S. nonmilitary pressure against governments; there is nothing on the Bay of Pigs nor the overthrow of the Arbanz regime in 1954. Still, there is much of interest: the historical perspective in Augusto Sandino's original 1927 rebellion in Nicaragua; and Musicant's honest, accurate report of American military bungling in Grenada. A sound and readable book for all public libraries.-- Raymond L. Puffer, U.S. Air Force History Prog., Los Angeles (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

A well-written historical overview of US foreign policy in the Caribbean and Central American countries--the so-called "banana republics" from which Musicant draws the title for his book. The author is a reputable military historian who reviews the period from the 1898 US war with Spain over Cuba, to the US invasion of Panama to oust General Manuel Noriega. The book is divided into nine case studies of different US involvements in the region and emphasizes the tasks of occupation, reconstruction, and administration from the perspective of the military governors, generals, and officers; the perspectives of State Department officials, congressmen, and presidents who determined policy in Washington are also incorporated. Musicant's volume is a welcome addition to the growing literature on the US "empire" in Central America and the Caribbean. The index and bibliography are very professional and the photos add a sense of drama and realism. The book will be of particular interest to those with little background in Central America and the Caribbean or the expansion of American power following the war with Spain in 1898--general readers/public library patrons, community college students, and lower-division undergraduates. -R. Roett, Johns Hopkins University