Gilbert M. Joseph is the Farnam Professor of History and International Studies at Yale University. His many books include A Century of Revolution: Insurgent and Counterinsurgent Violence during Latin America's Long Cold War (with Greg Grandin), The Mexico Reader: History, Culture, Politics (with Timothy J. Henderson), Fragments of a Golden Age: The Politics of Culture in Mexico since 1940 (with Anne Rubenstein and Eric Zolov), and Revolution from Without: Yucatán, Mexico, and the United States, 1880–1924, all also published by Duke University Press.
Jürgen Buchenau is Professor of History and Latin American Studies at UNC Charlotte. He is the author of numerous books, including The Last Caudillo: Alvaro Obregón and the Mexican Revolution, Mexican Mosaic: A Brief History of Mexico, and Plutarco Elías Calles and the Mexican Revolution.
Gobat focuses primarily on the reactions of the elites to Americanization, because the power and identity of these Nicaraguans were the most significantly affected by U.S. imperial rule. He describes their adoption of aspects of “the American way of life” in the mid–nineteenth century as strategic rather than wholesale. Chronicling the U.S. occupation of 1912–33, he argues that the anti-American turn of Nicaragua’s most Americanized oligarchs stemmed largely from the efforts of U.S. bankers, marines, and missionaries to spread their own version of the American dream. In part, the oligarchs’ reversal reflected their anguish over the 1920s rise of Protestantism, the “modern woman,” and other “vices of modernity” emanating from the United States. But it also responded to the unintended ways that U.S. modernization efforts enabled peasants to weaken landlord power. Gobat demonstrates that the U.S. occupation so profoundly affected Nicaragua that it helped engender the Sandino Rebellion of 1927–33, the Somoza dictatorship of 1936–79, and the Sandinista Revolution of 1979–90.