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The Immaculate Invasion
ISBN 0140248951 / 9780140248951 / 0-14-024895-1
Publisher Penguin Books
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In The Immaculate Invasion, Bob Shacochis, winner of the 1985 National Book Award for Easy in the Islands, returns to the Caribbean setting to tell the story of Operation Uphold Democracy, the United States government's official name for its 1994 occupation of Haiti. Focusing on the Clinton administration's policymakers and the soldiers who implemented their plans, Shacochis explores the capacity for altruistic action in the midst of a bloody pandemonium of human-rights outrages. While the American military's original strategy was to obliterate the murderous regime of General Cedras--executing a "hard entry" with "attitude and with a lot of ammunition"--they quickly found themselves caught up in a haphazard scheme for the transformation of the despot's thugs into a political party. Such cynical accommodationism confused the rules of engagement and restricted soldiers' ability to respond to atrocities. One officer, Captain Lawrence Rockwood, infuriated with by superiors' bureaucratic disregard of the concentration-camp-like conditions of Haiti's prisons, disobeyed orders and personally attempted to seize a jail in which dozens of prisoners were slowly dying. Shacochis follows Rockwood through his subsequent arrest and court martial, which he faces unrepentantly: "I'm an American soldier," Rockwood insists, "not a member of the Waffen SS."
Blending Haitian history and culture with his accounts of living amongst a Special Forces team, Shacochis achieves an unsettling triumph of combat journalism that will earn The Immaculate Invasion comparisons to other modern classics, such as Michael Herr's Dispatches. Its focus on compassion urges a profound redirection of the purposes and application of American interventionism. --James Highfill [via]