Stephen Schlesinger

Book: Bitter Fruit

Bitter Fruit: The Story of the American Coup in Guatamala

Bitter Fruit relates the sordid tale of how the US government overthrew a democratically-elected president in Guatemala on behalf of a Boston-based banana company, United Fruit, eventually plunging that small country into a civil war that killed over 200,000 people.

It was a New York Times “notable” book selection on its publication in 1982 and is considered a classic in the annals of American foreign policy and international affairs.

It has sold over 100,000 copies and has never been out of print. Stephen Schlesinger co-authored the book with Stephen Kinzer, former New York Times Latin American correspondent. The paperback publisher is Harvard University Press.

Video & Audio

1) Featured documentary on the 1954 US intervention including Stephen Schlesinger’s views on the coup:

Quotes & Reviews

“It’s a fantastic yarn – yet it all actually happened. This startling book tells, for the first time, the whole squalid story… Schlesinger’s and Kinzer’s meticulously documented history reads like a cloak-and-dagger thriller… [I]t also reads like a very timely warning of what can happen when America abuses its power”
Jim Miller, Newsweek
“It is a tale of dirty tricks, the manipulation of public opinion, the smearing of the precious few journalists who managed to sense what was really going on and of foreign policy that borrowed more from Doonesbury than diplomacy. It is a fast-paced and well-documented story… … A thoughtful and compelling book.”
Warren Hoge, New York Times Sunday Book Review
“Schlesinger and Kinzer have done the greatest service to truth and justice by presenting the untold truth of the CIA coup…”
Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes
“The story of the 1954 coup is told in chilling detail in…Bitter Fruit by Stephen Schlesinger and Stephen Kinzer.”
New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis
“The best account of the entire shameful episode is that provided in Bitter Fruit by Stephen Schlesinger and Stephen Kinzer.”
Alexander Cockburn, Wall Street Journal
“[I]n Bitter Fruit, their exemplary account of the Guatemalan intervention, Stephen Schlesinger and Stephen Kinzer describe how solicitous the destabilizers were to the small but significant forces of liberalism and social democracy in the United States.”
Christopher Hitchens, The Nation
“Books like Bitter Fruit about the 1954 coup we engineered in Guatemala (show) the point at which we really got off on the wrong track.”
Steve Van Zandt, lead guitarist in Bruce Springsteen’s band, describing how the book influenced his solo album, Voice of America