Hemispheric Alliances

Liberal Democrats and Cold War Latin America

By Andrew J. Kirkendall

398 pp., 6.125 x 9.25

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6801-7
    Published: June 2022
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-6800-0
    Published: June 2022
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-6802-4
    Published: April 2022

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Hemispheric foreign policy has waxed and waned since the Mexican War, and the Cold War presented both extraordinary promises and dangerous threats to U.S.–Latin American cooperation. In Hemispheric Alliances, Andrew J. Kirkendall examines the strengths and weaknesses of new models for U.S.–Latin American relations created by liberal Democrats who came to the fore during the Kennedy administration and retained significant influence until the Reagan era. Rather than exerting ironfisted power in Latin America, liberal Democrats urged Washington to be a moral rather than a militaristic leader in hemispheric affairs.

Decolonization, President Eisenhower’s missteps in Latin America, and the Cuban Revolution all played key roles in the Kennedy administration’s Alliance for Progress, which liberal Democrats hailed as a new cornerstone for U.S.–Latin American foreign policy. During the Vietnam War era, liberal Democrats began to incorporate human rights more centrally into their agendas, using Latin America as the primary arena for these policies. During the long period of military dictatorship in much of Latin America and the Caribbean, liberal Democrats would see their policies dissolved by the Nixon, Reagan, and Bush administrations who favored militant containment of both communism and absolutism.

About the Author

Andrew J. Kirkendall is author of Paulo Freire and the Cold War Politics of Literacy.

For more information about Andrew J. Kirkendall, visit the Author Page.


“A high-quality manuscript that will appeal to U.S. foreign relations historians, Latin Americanists, and political science and international relations scholars. Kirkendall’s focus on liberal Democrats is an important and innovative way to approach U.S. Cold War policy toward Latin America, and the manuscript draws from an impressive amount of secondary source material and archival research.”—William Michael Schmidli, Leiden University

“Thorough, balanced, and highly readable, Hemispheric Alliances tracks the rise and fall of a new liberal consensus that combined power with principle and which still resonates in this vital region today." —Mitchell Lerner, editor of The Cold War at Home and Abroad: Domestic Politics and US Foreign Policy since 1945

"This engrossing history of liberal Democrats’ quixotic quest to reinvent U.S. policy toward Latin America is a must-read for all those seeking to understand the trials and tribulations of inter-American relations." —Renata Keller, author of Mexico's Cold War: Cuba, the United States, and the Legacy of the Mexican Revolution

"Impressively researched and persuasively argued, Hemispheric Alliances not only reminds us of the crucial role played by domestic politics in the making and implementation of U.S. foreign policy, but it also highlights the complexities, nuances, and contradictions of the U.S. relationship with Latin America on issues ranging from economic development to human rights." —Andrew L. Johns, Brigham Young University and the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies

“This is the best account of American liberal efforts to pursue democratic reforms in Latin America during the Cold War. Every serious observer of U.S. foreign policy should read this book.”—Jeremi Suri, author of The Impossible Presidency: The Rise and Fall of America’s Highest Office