Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reviews “War” by Nelson Denis

War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America’s Colony


Glen C. Altschuler, an American Studies professor at Cornell University, reviewed War Against All Puerto Ricans in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 

The review covers many historical themes: including 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 armed insurrection against the United States. Violence swept through Puerto Rico: Nationalists 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, arrested 3,000 Puerto Ricans and bombarded two towns, marking the first time in history that the U.S. bombed its own citizens.

A law was also passed, Public Law 53 (also known as the Gag Law, or “Ley de la Mordaza”) which made it illegal to speak about independence, to criticize the US government, to sing the Puerto Rican national anthem, or to own a Puerto Rican flag.

In addition, for six decades, the FBI conducted a secret surveillance and spying program, called “carpetas,” which monitored the lives and actions of over 100,000 Puerto Ricans. After discussing some of these historical facts, Prof. Altschuler then offers his viewpoints on the book.


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