Washington Bullets: A History of the CIA, Coups, and Assassinations

REVIEWS, 21 Sep 2020

Monthly Review – TRANSCEND Media Service

Washington Bullets: A History of the CIA, Coups, and Assassinations, by Vijay Prashad, Sep 2020, 162 pp.

While vaunting itself as an oasis of democracy, the United States, in reality, has become a superpower by infiltrating foreign governments, obliterating entire cultures, and carrying out murderous military interventions in developing countries all over the world. Washington Bullets is about U.S. imperialism—the bullets sent by various Washington, DC administrations to crush revolutions, assassinate democratically elected leaders—to destroy hope. Focusing on the rising national liberation movements in the Third World after the Second World War and continuing up to the present, historian and journalist Vijay Prashad delivers a scathing indictment of U.S. imperialism, from the 1953 CIA-sponsored coup in Iran, to the twenty-first-century ousters of Dilma Rousseff in Brazil and Evo Morales in Bolivia.

Prashad, relying on his vast library of U.S. government documents, records of multinational corporations, speeches of despots, and memoirs of functionaries (including the complete works of Henry Kissinger), has assembled a fascinating—and appalling—account of just where and how the United States has perpetrated its global “fight against terror” or “drugs” or “communism.” But embedded in the history of U.S. imperialism is the history of worldwide resistance. Washington Bullets is also a book about hope and the possibilities offered by millions of—as yet—unsung heroes. Reading these stories, we can’t help but see the need to work together to save the earth—and create a new world of real democracy for the oppressed and the masses. “We are the masses,” Evo Morales writes in the book’s preface. “And the masses, over time, will win.”

(The eBook version of Washington Bullets is available from LeftWord Books.)


“This book brings to mind the infinite instances in which Washington Bullets have shattered hope.” —Evo Morales Ayma, former President of Bolivia

“Like his hero Eduardo Galeano, Vijay Prashad makes the telling of the truth lovable; not an easy trick to pull off, he does it effortlessly.”
—Roger Waters, Pink Floyd


Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor and journalist. He is a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He is the chief editor of LeftWord Books and the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He is the author of 20 books, including The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World (The New Press, 2007), Arab Spring, Libyan Winter (AK Press, 2012), The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South (Verso, 2013), The Death of the Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution (University of California Press, 2016) and Red Star Over the Third World (LeftWord, 2017).

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