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In this sweeping history of United States policy toward Latin America, Lars Schoultz shows that the United States has always perceived Latin America as a fundamentally inferior neighbour, unable to manage its affairs and stubbornly underdeveloped. Drawing upon archival sources, Schoultz shows how these core beliefs have not changed for two centuries. Self-interest has combined with a "civilizing mission" - a self-abnegating effort by a superior people to help a substandard civilization overcome its defects. While political correctness censors the expression of such sentiments today, the actions of the United States continue to assume the political and cultural inferiority of Latin America. Schoultz demonstrates that not until the United States perceives its southern neighbours as equals can a constructuve hemispheric alliance be anticipated.