The United States has been nation building for a century. This fine book considers the first US effort to build a nation by military means, in the Dominican Republic from 1916 to 1924. Published during the centennial year of the invasion that began that effort, the study shows that nation building did not work because arrogance, cultural ignorance, racism, and violence betrayed its idealistic goals and spurred resistance. If this sounds familiar, it is because “the parallels and implications for other US military occupations and the idea of exporting democracy are impossible to miss” (p. 205).

The book contributes to military and Latin American history, foreign relations, and the literature on nation building; scholars of these fields will welcome it. So will students, because it is a gripping tale, rich in detail. The author mined many sources in the United States (especially...

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