Saturday, October 03, 2009

What is Dennis Merrill reading?

The current featured contributor to Writers Read: Dennis Merrill, author of Negotiating Paradise: U.S. Tourism and Empire in Twentieth Century Latin America (University of North Carolina Press, 2009) and other books.

His entry begins:
Browsing the shelves of a Boulder, Colorado bookstore this summer, I was pleased to come across Greg Grandin’s new book Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City. Grandin is one of our most gifted historians of America’s hemispheric empire – and Fordlandia is his finest work to date. It reconstructs Henry Ford’s doomed adventure deep within the Brazilian Amazon in the late 1920s to build a utopian urban metropolis. Ford imagined a community that some 100,000 souls might call home and where massive quantities of rubber would be cultivated and processed with factory-like efficiency. The undertaking at one and the same time would feed the Ford Automobile Company’s appetite for tires, undercut British Malaya’s monopoly on rubber, and export the American way of life – complete with tidy row houses, the latest in plumbing fixtures, and the prohibition of demon rum (this was after all the roaring twenties).

Fordlandia, as the industrial paradise was named, proved to be...[read on]
Dennis Merrill was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, received a doctorate in history from the University of Connecticut, and currently teaches at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He is the author of four books, including the seventh edition of Major Problems in American Foreign Relations. Among the praise for his most recent book, Negotiating Paradise:
"Merrill has written an important and persuasive book. Looking behind the beachfront resorts and casinos, he reveals how Latin Americans and Yankees engaged in a high-stakes contest over empire, profits, and national identity. Merrill offers cutting-edge ideas on international history and globalization with colorful material and superb storytelling."
--Christopher Endy, author of Cold War Holidays: American Tourism in France

"Merrill makes a significant contribution by showing how tourism complemented the U.S. drive toward hegemony and empire in Latin America. His cultural approach puts this study in the vanguard of recent work in diplomatic history. An excellent book."
--Mark T. Gilderhus, Texas Christian University
Writers Read: Dennis Merrill.

--Marshal Zeringue