Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pg. 99: Howard Jones' "The Bay of Pigs"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: The Bay of Pigs by Howard Jones.

About the book, from the publisher:
In January 1959, as Fidel Castro entered Havana in triumph, Americans hailed the revolutionary as a hero. Then came Castro's increasingly anti-American talk, the rise in his regime of the openly Marxist Che Guevara and Raul Castro, and seizures of American-owned assets. In little more than a year, President Dwight D. Eisenhower concluded that Castro must go.

In The Bay of Pigs, Howard Jones provides a concise, incisive, and dramatic account of the disastrous attempt to overthrow Castro. He deftly examines the train of missteps and self-deceptions that led to the invasion of U. S.-trained exiles at the Bay of Pigs. Ignoring warnings from the ambassador to Cuba, the Eisenhower administration put in motion an operation that proved nearly unstoppable even after the inauguration of John F. Kennedy. The CIA and Pentagon, meanwhile, both voiced confidence in the outcome of the invasion, especially after coordinating previous successful coups in Guatemala and Iran. As a vital part of the Cuban effort, the CIA sought to incite a popular insurrection by recruiting the Mafia's help in engineering Castro's assassination on the eve of the invasion. And so the Kennedy administration launched the exile force toward its doom in Cochinos Bay on April 17, 1961. Jones gives a riveting account of the battle--and the confusion in the White House--before moving on to explore its implications. The Bay of Pigs, he writes, set the course of Kennedy's foreign policy. It was a humiliation for the administration that fueled fears of Communist domination and pushed Kennedy toward a hardline cold warrior stance. But at the same time, the failed attack left him deeply skeptical of CIA and military advisers and influenced his later actions during the Cuban missile crisis.

Richly researched, vividly written, The Bay of Pigs offers an engaging and thoughtful account of the turning point in Kennedy's foreign policy and indeed in foreign policy for decades to come.
Among the praise for the book:
"A taut account of a dismal passage of the Cold War... With remarkable efficiency, Jones... examines all aspects of the debacle... May become the preferred single-source reference to an episode whose foreign policy and military implications continue to reverberate."
--Kirkus Reviews

"Extensively researched and cogently reasoned, Jones's update of this Cold War turning point for the Pivotal Moments in American History series is a cautionary account of a disastrous foray into regime change."
--Publishers Weekly

"The Bay of Pigs, based on deep research, is a hard-hitting history of the Cold War mentality that led American leaders not only to back a badly flawed invasion but also to plot all manner of attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro and others in his circle."
--James T. Patterson, author of Restless Giant: The United States from Watergate to Bush v. Gore

"An unsparing portrait of an epic disaster, a tale of overreach, incompetence, hubris and self-delusion, of every level of American government at its worst. The Bay of Pigs had far-reaching consequences, and from Howard Jones' account it becomes clear why."
--James Galbraith, The University of Texas at Austin
Learn more about The Bay of Pigs and its author at the Oxford University Press website and Howard Jones' faculty webpage.

Howard Jones is University Research Professor of History at the University of Alabama. His books include Mutiny on the Amistad and Death of a Generation.

The Page 99 Test: The Bay of Pigs.

--Marshal Zeringue