The Most Dangerous Area in the World

John F. Kennedy Confronts Communist Revolution in Latin America

By Stephen G. Rabe

272 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4764-0
    Published: February 1999
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-1736-7
    Published: June 2014
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-7053-7
    Published: June 2014

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In March 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced the formation of the Alliance for Progress, a program dedicated to creating prosperous, socially just, democratic societies throughout Latin America. Over the next few years, the United States spent nearly $20 billion in pursuit of the Alliance's goals, but Latin American economies barely grew, Latin American societies remained inequitable, and sixteen extraconstitutional changes of government rocked the region. In this close, critical analysis, Stephen Rabe explains why Kennedy's grand plan for Latin America proved such a signal policy failure.

Drawing on recently declassified materials, Rabe investigates the nature of Kennedy's intense anti-Communist crusade and explores the convictions that drove him to fight the Cold War throughout the Caribbean and Latin America--a region he repeatedly referred to as "the most dangerous area in the world." As Rabe acknowledges, Kennedy remains popular in the United States and Latin America, in part for the noble purposes behind the Alliance for Progress. But an unwavering determination to wage Cold War led Kennedy to compromise, even mutilate, those grand goals.

About the Author

Stephen G. Rabe, professor of history at the University of Texas at Dallas, is author of the prize-winning Eisenhower and Latin America: The Foreign Policy of Anticommunism.
For more information about Stephen G. Rabe, visit the Author Page.


"This is the best detailed, overall account we have of the much-discussed Kennedy policies toward Latin America. Well-written, based on exhaustive use of U.S. sources, this account makes an argument--Kennedy's obsession with the Cold War 'mutilated' his good intentions toward the southern hemisphere--that should help shape the ongoing, often intense, debate over Kennedy and the pivotal U.S. policies in the 1960s."--Walter LaFeber, Cornell University