If you follow politics, you like history, you want to learn about the United State’s overthrow of a democratically-elected government, you want to be disgusted by corporate control of our government, or you want to understand one of America’s foreign policy failures, you need to read Bitter Fruit. It’s amazing how many of the issues we are facing today have resulted from failed policies from decades earlier.
Bitter Fruit is the story behind the United States coup to overthrow the government of Guatemala in 1954. It’s one of the books I most recommend.
Stephen Schlesinger and Stephen Kinzer’s Bitter Fruit is an incredibly detailed, sourced look at the Eisenhower administration’s overthrowing of the elected government of Guatemala. Bitter Fruit is a sad, sobering look at how the toxic combination of an iratonele fear of communism spreading to the West and corporate greed made the administration manipulate the press and lie to the public.
The corporate villain in the story is the United Fruit Company. The book highlights the numerous contacts between the Eisenhower administration and United Fruit. It details instances of the government lying to newspapers to get lies printed about the Guatemalan government. There are stories of editors wanting to do their part to beat back the spread of communism. Sadly, their part often meant publishing lies.
Reading Bitter Fruit was an emotional experience. Some parts were infuriating. Some parts were sad. Some parts were disappointing. Some parts were educational.
By the end, I felt dirty and ashamed. Reading it in the context of the Trump administration certainly didn’t help. If anything, our government is even more fueled by corporate greed and irrational hatred than was the Eisenhower administration.
Bitter Fruit isn’t an easy read. Bitter Fruit is an important read.