An excavation of a long-obscured history, Empire's Workshop is the first book to show how Latin America has functioned as an indispensable laboratory for America's rise to world power. Historian Greg Grandin follows the United States's imperial operations, from Thomas Jefferson's aspirations for an "empire of liberty" that would govern Cuba and Spanish Florida to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Good Neighbor Policy, which taught the U.S. how to use "soft power" more effectively and provided a blueprint for its postwar European and Asian "empire by invitation."
Empire's Workshop is also the first book to examine how a preemptive foreign policy in Latin America, which included sponsoring coups, death-squad states, and paramilitary insurgencies, has transformed America's domestic politics, forging today's ruling coalition of neoconservatives, Christian evangelicals, free marketeers, and nationalists. The road to war in Iraq, Grandin argues, can be traced back to the 1970s and 1980s, when an increasingly internationalist New Right turned to Latin America to avenge Vietnam, and in so doing rehabilitated militarism as a legitimate instrument of the state and made free-market capitalism the moral core of American purpose abroad.
Today, much of Latin America is in open rebellion against American domination. Grandin concludes with a sobering analysis of these explosive tensions and poses a vital question: If Washington has been unable to bring prosperity, stability, and democracy to Latin America—its own backyard "workshop"—what are the chances it will do so for the world?