The Intelligence War in Latin America, 1914–1922


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About the Book

World War I did not bypass Latin America. Within days of the war’s outbreak, European belligerents mobilized intelligence assets and secret diplomacy to compete for Latin America’s allegiances and resources. This intelligence war entangled all of the American republics and even Japan. Dreary consular offices from the Rio Grande to the Straits of Magellan were abruptly thrust into covert activities, trafficking in fugitives, running contraband and conducting sabotage. Revolutionary and counter-revolutionary movements, big oil, international banks and businesses were also drawn in.
Drawing on long-classified U.S. intelligence documents, this narrative of the Latin American intelligence war reveals the complexity and chaos behind the placid veneer of wartime Pan-America. The author connects the dots between Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Guatemala City, Lima, Havana, Santiago, Rio de Janeiro, Berlin, London, Washington, Tokyo and dozens of safe houses, front companies, consulates, legations and headquarters in between. Scores of unrecognized veterans of the intelligence war are revealed.

About the Author(s)

Jamie Bisher is a senior technical writer at a leading defense electronics firm in Maryland and has published many articles about World War I–era intelligence. He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and a Cold War intelligence veteran.

Bibliographic Details

Jamie Bisher
Format: softcover (8.5 x 11)
Pages: 448
Bibliographic Info: 115 photos, glossary, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2016
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3350-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2026-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments  viii
Preface  1
Part 1: European War in the Americas, 1914–1916
1914—A Rush to Arms  4
1915—The American Front  31
1916—Black Lists, Terrorism and Proxy Wars  65
Part 2: Strategic Sideshow in Latin America, 1917–1918
1917—“Somos Aliados”  86
1918—World War in the Americas  179
Part 3: Endgame of the Intelligence
War in Latin America, 1919–1922
1919—Wartime Duplicity and Strategic Realignment  248
1920—New World Order  285
1921 and Beyond—Treachery and Transnational Threats  310
Epilogue: Destiny, Doom and Legacy  335
Appendix I. Blacklisted and Suspect Firms  355
Appendix II. Secret Messages  358
Glossary  359
Chapter Notes  362
Bibliography  395
Index  414

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “The author had to fuse together a bewildering number of stories from many parts of the world. The result is impressive. He is also excellent at explaining the Japanese intelligence and sabotage operations on both continents. Well documented and well presented, this book is a professionally woven tapestry of true and never seen before stories from the First World War”—International Affairs
  • “Well-written…Bisher provides excellent historical context…provides Latin Americanists of all venues new insights into the region’s World War I experiences. Bisher’s story of intrigue and intelligence makes us aware of the adversaries’ varied interests in the internal dynamics of several countries.”—Latin American Research Review
  • “Absorbing exploration of World War I intelligence machinations in the America’s…admirable…upholds high scholarly standards with a thorough index and detailed crediting of the numerous photos. Altogether, this seminal work stands out in the intelligence literature as a unique product.”—American Intelligence Journal