Freedom fighters. Guerrilla warriors. Soldiers of fortune. The many
civil wars and rebellions against communist governments drew
heavily from this cast of characters. Yet from Nicaragua to
Afghanistan, Vietnam to Angola, Cuba to the Congo, the connections
between these anticommunist groups have remained hazy and their
coordination obscure. Yet as Kyle Burke reveals, these conflicts
were the product of a rising movement that sought paramilitary
action against communism worldwide. Tacking between the United
States and many other countries, Burke offers an international
history not only of the paramilitaries who started and waged small
wars in the second half of the twentieth century but of
conservatism in the Cold War era.
From the start of the Cold War, Burke shows, leading U.S.
conservatives and their allies abroad dreamed of an international
anticommunist revolution. They pinned their hopes to armed men,
freedom fighters who could unravel communist states from within.
And so they fashioned a global network of activists and state
officials, guerrillas and mercenaries, ex-spies and ex-soldiers to
sponsor paramilitary campaigns in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Blurring the line between state-sanctioned and vigilante violence,
this armed crusade helped radicalize right-wing groups in the
United States while also generating new forms of privatized warfare