War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America’s Colony

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In 1950, after over fifty years of mil­i­tary occu­pa­tion and colo­nial rule, the Nation­al­ist Par­ty of Puer­to Rico staged an unsuc­cess­ful armed insur­rec­tion against the Unit­ed States. Vio­lence swept through the island: assas­sins were sent to kill Pres­i­dent Har­ry Tru­man, gun­fights roared in eight towns, police sta­tions and post offices were burned down. In order to sup­press this upris­ing, the US Army deployed thou­sands of troops and bom­bard­ed two towns, mark­ing the first time in his­to­ry that the US gov­ern­ment bombed its own citizens.

Nel­son A. Denis tells this pow­er­ful sto­ry through the con­tro­ver­sial life of Pedro Albizu Cam­pos, who served as the pres­i­dent of the Nation­al­ist Par­ty. A lawyer, chem­i­cal engi­neer, and the first Puer­to Rican to grad­u­ate from Har­vard Law School, Albizu Cam­pos was impris­oned for twen­ty-five years and died under mys­te­ri­ous cir­cum­stances. By trac­ing his life and death, Denis shows how the jour­ney of Albizu Cam­pos is part of a larg­er sto­ry of Puer­to Rico and US colonialism.

Through oral his­to­ries, per­son­al inter­views, eye­wit­ness accounts, con­gres­sion­al tes­ti­mo­ny, and recent­ly declas­si­fied FBI files, War Against All Puer­to Ricans tells the sto­ry of a for­got­ten rev­o­lu­tion and its con­text in Puer­to Rico’s his­to­ry, from the US inva­sion in 1898 to the mod­ern-day strug­gle for self-deter­mi­na­tion. Denis pro­vides an unflinch­ing account of the gun­fights, prison riots, polit­i­cal intrigue, FBI and CIA covert activ­i­ty, and mass hys­te­ria that accom­pa­nied this tumul­tuous peri­od in Puer­to Rican history.

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