In This Review

The Gathering Storm: Eduardo Frei’s Revolution in Liberty and Chile’s Cold War
The Gathering Storm: Eduardo Frei’s Revolution in Liberty and Chile’s Cold War
By Sebastián Hurtado-Torres
270 pp, Cornell University Press, 2020
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Drawing on newly released diplomatic correspondence between the U.S. embassy in Santiago, the U.S. State Department, and the White House, the Chilean historian Hurtado-Torres offers a sophisticated reinterpretation of U.S.-Chilean relations in the 1960s prior to the 1970 election of the leftist Salvador Allende. Hurtado-Torres is impressed by the astuteness of well-networked U.S. diplomats, their distaste for corrupt local hacks, and their preference for effective progressive (but not too progressive) leaders. U.S. diplomacy succeeded, Hurtado-Torres convincingly shows, when it was most closely aligned with the interests of local partners (notably President Eduardo Frei Montalva and his centrist Christian Democrats) and when respectful of local institutions. Not surprisingly, disentangling U.S. influence from local politics proves a difficult methodological task for the historian; the anticommunist bent of U.S. policy during the Cold War may have contributed to severe political polarization in Chile, but the deepening left-right ideological divide among Chileans was the primary driver of political strife and led, inexorably, to the tragedy of the violent 1973 military coup that extinguished Chilean democracy for nearly a generation.