War Against All Puerto Ricans is a powerful, tragic, and untold history of U.S. intervention into the politics of Puerto Rico. From the U.S. invasion in 1898 to the modern day struggle for self-determination, Nelson Denis provides a panoramic history of an island once referred to by the New York Times as a significant “commercial value…it would be much better for [Puerto Rico] to come at once under the beneficent sway of these United States than to engage in doubtful experiments at self-government.”
Based on oral histories, personal interviews, eyewitness accounts, congressional testimony, and recently de-classified FBI files, War Against All Puerto Ricans tells the story of a revolution integral to Puerto Rican history, but virtually unknown to the American public: the Puerto Rican independence revolt of 1950. After over fifty years of military occupation and colonial rule, the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico staged an unsuccessful armed insurrection against the United States. Violence swept through Puerto Rico: Nationalist were sent to kill President Harry Truman, gunfights roared in eight towns, police stations and post offices were burned down. In order to suppress the uprising, the U.S. Army deployed thousands of troops and bombarded two towns, marking the first time in history that the U.S. bombed its own citizens.
In telling this story, Nelson Denis traces the lives of the key figures that shaped, directed and destroyed the revolution, including Pedro Albizu Campos, president of the Nationalist Party and leader of the Puerto Rican independence movement, who was eventually imprisoned and died under mysterious circumstances. It is an unflinching account of the gunfights, prison riots, political intrigue, FBI and CIA covert activity, and mass hysteria that accompanied this tumultuous period in Puerto Rican history.
About the Author
Nelson A. Denis was the editorial director of El Diario, the largest Spanish-language newspaper in NYC, and won the Best Editorial Writing award from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. A graduate of Harvard University and Yale Law School, Denis served as a New York State Assemblyman (1997-2001) and has written for the New York Daily News, Newsday, and Harvard Political Review. Denis also wrote and directed the feature film Vote For Me!, which premiered in the Tribeca Film Festival.
“Prepare to be outraged. With War Against All Puerto Ricans, Nelson Denis lifts a huge and heavy rock from under which crawls one of the more unfathomable and generally unknown dirty secrets about the U.S. government — that it unleashed its military might against its own citizens in a misguided effort to quell a perceived revolt by Puerto Ricans. Meticulously researched from decades’ worth of interviews, public records and personal documents, this is a timely, eye-opening must-read for not only Puerto Ricans, but every American who still believes in the importance of truth and justice.”
– Robert Dominguez, New York Daily News
“Sometime in the not-too distant future, we will resolve the relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico. To understand where we are going, we must know our past – both good and bad. War Against All Puerto Ricans fills an important gap in that historical understanding. It is a book that every student of the U.S. – Puerto Rico relationship should read.”
– Congressman José Serrano
“As more than a half century of failed US policy toward Cuba comes to a slow end, Nelson Denis’s fascinating new book is a timely reminder of that other island in the Caribbean that the United States took possession of in 1898: Puerto Rico. War Against All Puerto Ricans is a remarkable history of a forgotten national liberation movement and Washington’s brutal pacification campaign.”
– Greg Grandin, professor of history at New York University and author of The Empire of Necessity
“A patient, calibrated, fully-researched study of the mendacious, hypocritical way the United States treats its Caribbean colony, castrating its leadership, bombarding its villages, experimenting biologically with its population. Puerto Rico is, in a word, el calabozo. Denis knows the truth first-hand and refuses to sugarcoat it.”
– Ilan Stavans, author of Spanglish: The Making of a New American Language