In this book, former CIA employee William Blum, more or less analyzes the efforts of the CIA and U.S. government to maintain the status quo in the third world after World Two. He notes in his introductions, that the Bolshevik takeover of Russia in 1917 was regard hysterically by Western elites who immediatley invaded Russia, usuccessfully trying to overthrow the Bolsheviks, while their organs of opinion, exposed in the 1921 Walter Lipmann-Charles Merz study, such as the New York Times reported all sorts of wild stories about Bolesheviks eating Children and making all women property of the state, and reported every unsubstantiated rumor every day that the Bolsheviks were about to be defeated. The Boleshevik revolution, as anathema as it was to genuine populism to say the least, was the first major example of an alternative to the capitalist/colonial world system and was feared by Western elites for that reason.
After World War two, the United States emerged as the supreme power of the world and its only rival was the Soviet Union, which had gobbled up East Europe whose markets had traditionally been dominated by the Western powers. In Italy, Greece, Indochina and elsewhere Communists had gained great popular support, independent of any aid from the Soviet Union, for their opposition to fascism and the old colonial order or status quo. In Italy, the United States almost single handedly engineered the defeat of the very popular Communists in the 1948 election and in Greece they set up a terror and torture regime composed of many Nazi collaborators, and set up a similar regime in South Vietnam to destroy the 1954 Geneva accords.
Throughout this book, there are dozens of instances of CIA and U.S. government operations designed to subvert even the most mildly social democratic governments or engaged in activities like funding innumerable newspapers and labor unions to help subvert the target country. There is the overthrow of the liberal democratic capitalist regime in Guatemala in 1954 after it tried to decrease the power of the United Fruit corporation in their country and permitted civil liberties to communists and finally after years of being denied it from the U.S. or any other source imported a small boatload of arms from the communist block at which point the maniac John Foster Dulles declared that the communists were establishing a beachead in Cetral America designed to overtake the helpless United States , since which Guatemala has turned into a hell on earth, with a series of U.S. backed tin-pot Hitlers. There is the story of the U.S. engaging in the assasination of at least 20,000 South Vietnamese in "Operation Phoenix" or using such instruments of "interrogation" as the Tiger cage and the water board, after which the many victims began to make the trials and tribulation that our heroic B-52 flyers who were shot down and taken captive by the wicked North Vietnamese who didn't think too kindly of all the bombing and napalming of their people.
There is the story of the U.S. overthrowing the right wing populist prime minister Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran in 1953, after he nationalized his country's oil supply, restoring the shah to power whose regime's human rights violations were described by Amnesty International in 1976 as "the worst in the world." There is the story of Green Beret training and much other aid being supplied to the military and their associated death squads in El Salvador which were responsible for most of the deaths in El Salvador during the 80's, as is now quietly conceded by the U.S. government and media. There is the story of the U.S. training the thugs maintained by the Duvaliers in their dictatorship in Haiti and their efforts to undermine the populist priest Jean Bertrand Aristide. There is the story of the United States overthrowing the mildly social democratic regime of Jao Goulart in Brazil setting up a terror and torture regime military regime in 1964. There is the story of the United States launching a campaign of terror and sabotoge against Cuba when Castro took over which has lasted to this day, using such individuals as Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carrilles, inevitably driving Castro into the arms of the Soviet Union (the previous dictator, U.S. supported Bautista, had included communists in his cabinet and the Cuban communists were highly ambivalent about Castro). There is the United States overthrowing Indonesian president Sukarno in 1965 on rather dubious charges of communist plotting, completely eliminating the communist party PKI which U.S. officials recognized was the only mass-based political party in Indonesia and that it had gained its support through democratic methods, butchering at least a half a million landless peasants (the PKI's base of support) and installing the barbaric Suharto dictarship which proceeded to plunder the country in cooperation with multinational corporations and butcher 200,000 more in the U.S. backed invasion of East Timor beginning in 1975. There is the story of of the United States pouring tens of millions of dollars into Chile beginning in 1958 to the political opponents of Salvadore Allende and when he was finally elected in 1970, the U.S. proceeded to destroy the economy ("make the economy scream" was Nixon's words in a memo after Allende was elected later documented by the Church Senate committee) and carry out other acts of subversion, paving the way for Pinochet to seize power.
The common response to these revelations is the rather cowardly "Well, it was the Cold War and the Soviets were infiltrating these countries and anyways it's in the past so..." Blum shows that in many instances the only evidence of Communist subversion was U.S. government assertions, ussually accepted gravely by the "liberal" media and the indoctrinated American public, or at best grossly fabricated or distored satellite pictures or "discoveries" of "massive" weapons caches (as in Grenada in 1983). Or the case of Brazil, overthrowing the democrat Goulart in 1964, on the evidence-free theory that communists were about to take over the government and that Goulart was too close to the Soviet Union, following which the military dictatorship greatly expanded Brazil's trade and took great amounts of aid from the Soviet Union. Blum also briefly notes that the 1976-83 "dirty war" dictatorship in Argentina had extensive support from both the United States and the Soviet Union.
What I have outlined above is highly insufficent to describe what is in this book. There are more than fifty five chapters in this 383 page book. Despite its small print and rather heavy documentaion, the book is pretty easy to read. The author's prose is very clear and his ideas are clearly stated and he often shows great learning and even wit.