So I’m reading Stephen Kinzer’s Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq, and it’s pretty whatever and all of that. This is from the author who wrote All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror, which I unqualifiedly enjoyed a few months ago. Overthrow has the same themes in it, about how clumsy regime changes are worse than no regime changes in terms of advantages for the dominant culture, not just morally but in terms of physical and economic security.
I guess the reason Overthrow isn’t all that fascinating to me is that Kinzer’s language does get a little emotional and moralist-y while pushing this point when I want cold hard facts, talking heads, things to beat down the unrighteous with, et cetera. That girly stuff was fine in All the Shah’s Men since there's more space for point-and-click facts in a dedicated book, but Overthrow is a 322-page survey of more than a dozen regime changes and there’s not the room for Kinzer to talk about American’s great and abused moral qualities as much as he does. Then it feels messy when such an ambitious project needs surgical precision.
Anyways, maybe it’s my problem for starting with All the Shah’s Men and then going back to a more general book. It has struck me Overthrow would be a good primer specifically for Americans who hadn’t been educated to figure out why essentially everyone kind of hates them. And I am learning new things, of course. Now I understand Puerto Rico and Hawaii’s relationship with the mainland United States a little better, and the mess that was United Fruit, and things like that. Anyways. It’s worth a read on a rainy afternoon, I guess.