Using Costa Rica as a example, Longley carefully examines the development of the successful relationship between a nonindustrialized country and the United States, revealing the complex forces at work in resistance and accommodation.
During World War II and the immediate postwar era, both the United States and Costa Rica experienced dramatic changes. The United States assumed world leadership and the accompanying responsibilities; Costa Rica encountered far-reaching difficulties that culminated in the Civil War of 1948 and the rise to power of José Figueres. Longley examines why the United States supported Figueres and emphasizes the history and role of Costa Ricans, primarily the figueristas, in maintaining good relations in such a difficult era. Figueres implemented economic and political nationalism, which produced domestic and international tensions, and in spite of its rejection of similar policies in Guatemala and Iran, the United States supported Figueres against domestic and foreign threats.