This basic text analyzes the U.S. record in Central America during three periods: independence to the construction of the Panama Canal (1829-1903); the opening of the canal to after the Second World War; and the contemporary period. In the first period the U.S. government was less interested in Central America than were private U.S. entrepreneurs. In the second, strategic considerations dominated U.S. policies. Finally, ideological concerns have dominated U.S. policy since World War II. In all three periods, however, Washington sought "stability" on the isthmus. The next phase in U.S.-Central American relations is far from clear.