Greg Grandin

Greg Grandin teaches history at NYU. The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America will be published on 5 March.

What’s at Stake in Venezuela?

Greg Grandin, 7 February 2019

1. The concept of sovereignty may refer to the political control that a leader exercises over a society and territory, or the psychic control that an individual exercises over herself.

2. Sovereignty has a long history in political thought, not least in relation to the expansion of European imperial powers. But it was in Spanish America that its modern form – applied to non-imperial or...

Chávez came to adopt all the attributes political scientists associate with authoritarianism. He sacrificed institutional checks and balances for political expediency, demonised his opponents both at home and in Washington with colourful bombast, was buoyed at rallies by emotional call-and-response repartee with his red-shirted supporters, and governed as if he were running an extended political campaign. In this sense, Chávez could be placed squarely within Latin America’s long populist tradition. What made him unique, and his long rule so unusual for a populist, is that he never deviated.

The Amazon basin​ is roughly the size of the continental United States and contains more than a thousand shifting tributaries. If it had been found at the edge of human settlement, it would have been more comprehensible to European colonisers. Frontiers symbolise limits to knowledge and boundaries to movement; their meaning is encapsulated in a simple injunction – push on. But...

Don’t do what Allende did: Allende

Greg Grandin, 19 July 2012

The 1930s, the chronicler of American poverty Michael Harrington once said, ended in 1948, when the Cold War began to call into question the idea that democracy would lead to socialism. But by that definition, perhaps the 1930s didn’t really end until 11 September 1973, when Pinochet launched his coup against Salvador Allende, Chile’s democratically elected Marxist president, and...

Katrina Time: Dave Eggers in New Orleans

Greg Grandin, 6 January 2011

In early September 2005, a week after Hurricane Katrina, the police and National Guard arrested Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a Syrian immigrant who worked in New Orleans as a building contractor and landlord. Zeitoun was seized on his own property; the unidentified officers refused to tell him why he’d been arrested. They took him to Union Terminal, a train and bus station that had been hastily...

Why stop at two? Latin America Pulls Away

Greg Grandin, 22 October 2009

‘The people of South America are the most ignorant, the most bigoted, the most superstitious of all the Roman Catholics in Christendom,’ John Adams, the second American president, wrote in 1815. The notion that they could form a ‘confederation of free governments’, as the Venezuelan revolutionary Francisco de Miranda had proposed, was as ‘absurd as similar plans...

Sucking up to P: Henry Kissinger’s Vanity

Greg Grandin, 29 November 2007

Henry Kissinger’s realpolitik, with its moral relativism and easy acceptance of American limits, is often contrasted with the neocon evangelism that took off after the attacks of 9/11. Kissinger had long served as a foil for the New Right. The secretary of state ‘sounds like Churchill’ but ‘acts like Chamberlain’, Norman Podhoretz wrote in 1976. And even before conservatives came to condemn Kissinger for his dealings with China and Moscow, they distrusted his associates, particularly Nelson Rockefeller.

From The Blog
5 January 2010

The honeymoon between Barack Obama and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva didn’t last long. When Obama was elected, the US press imagined a natural alliance between the two men, expecting them to sideline the ideologues and set the Western Hemisphere back in greased grooves. ‘This is my man, right here,’ Obama said at the G20 summit in London in April, grinning and shaking Lula’s hand. ‘I love this guy.’ The first bump in the road was the coup in Honduras in June, which sparked a clash of wills between the US and Brazil over how best to settle it. ‘Our concern,’ said Lula’s foreign-policy adviser, Marco Aurélio Garcia, is that Washington’s push to legitimise the Honduran elections ‘will introduce the “theory of the preventive coup”’ – an extension of Bush’s doctrine of preventive war – ‘in Latin America’.


Among the Republicans

29 November 2007

Greg Grandin writes: Apologies. I should have said David Rockefeller, or Rockefeller interests. The person in question was Richard Rosenbaum, who had been a fixture in New York liberal Republican politics, and a close ally of the whole Rockefeller clan. Both in the 1976 and the 1980 Republican Conventions, he served as liaison between the Reagan conservatives and the Rockefeller moderates (as well...

Whalers v. Sealers: Rebellion on the Tryal

Nicholas Guyatt, 19 March 2015

In​ 1805 there was a slave rebellion aboard the Tryal, a Spanish ship sailing from Valparaíso to Lima. This wasn’t unusual: hundreds of similar revolts broke out across the shipping...

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Duas Cervejas: Ford’s Utopia

James C. Scott, 8 October 2009

It was clear that Henry Ford’s audacious attempt to establish a vast rubber plantation in Amazonia had failed long before the first shipment of latex from Singapore arrived in Brazil in...

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On 5 December 1982, Ronald Reagan met the Guatemalan president, Efraín Ríos Montt, in Honduras. It was a useful meeting for Reagan. ‘Well, I learned a lot,’ he told...

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