Engaging Africa: Washington and the Fall of Portugal's Colonial Empire

This book, a must-read for anyone interested in decolonization or Cold War diplomacy, is the definitive diplomatic history of U.S.-Portuguese relations in the 1960s and 1970s, in the context of Portugal's 1974 revolution and the end of its African empire. The 1974 military coup was motivated by unhappiness in the army over seemingly endless war in Portugal's African colonies, so rapid decolonization was an inevitable consequence. Schneidman argues that these events came as a surprise to the Nixon administration, its understanding of local dynamics clouded by an exaggerated fear of the communist threat in both Portugal and Africa. And he is critical of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger's policies toward southern Africa, arguing that U.S. policy errors were in part to blame for the Angolan civil war, which did not end until 2002. Schneidman tells an engaging story, enlivened by personal interviews with many key figures and archival material he obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

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