PB Success

The CIA's covert operation to overthrow Guatemalan president Jacobo Arbenz June-July 1954

Mario Overall, Dan Hagedorn

Publication date:
June 2016
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
Latin America @ War
Format Available     Quantity Price
ISBN : 9781910777893

Dimensions : 297 X 210 mm


In January 1954, at the peak of the so-called "Cold War”, the U.S. Government set to overthrow the Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz, who had been deemed a Communist and a dangerous influence in Central America. Thus, the Central Intelligence Agency was ordered to launch a clandestine paramilitary operation, code-named "Project PB Success”, for setting a precedent in a region that was considered the U.S. backyard. Six months later, Arbenz was out and a new "ruling junta”, more amiable to U.S. interests, had replaced him.

In the process, the Agency not only had established the principles and tactics for all its future covert operations, but also had shaped the U.S. foreign policy for years to come. Based primarily on CIA declassified documents and Guatemalan military sources, this book explores the volatile political and military scenario in which Project PBSuccess unfolded and, for the first time, delves into a rather poorly documented aspect of the operation: The use of air power by both, the CIA and the Guatemalan Air Force. Backed by more than 20 years of careful research, the book covers the desperate attempts of the Guatemalan air arm for establishing a credible defense plan with very limited resources, and the difficulties that the Agency had to overcome in order to organize a rebel air force while navigating a sea of red tape and bureaucracy. It also examines all air operations launched prior and during the campaign, and brings to life the aircraft and the aviators that flew in those missions, sometimes with tragic results. Besides a selection of photos never published before, the book also features a section on color profiles and markings, and a set of tables detailing the identities of the aircraft involved and the missions flown, on a day-by-day basis.


Helion's first "Latin America @ War” installment certainly sets high standards for the publisher's promising series. And I breathlessly await further forays. Perhaps Overall and Hagedorn will return with, say, an equally authoritative "Caribbean Legion” account? Rabidly recommended!

This softback maintains [Helion's] high standard of the African titles and includes copious photographs.
The Aviation Historian Magazine

As well as the detailed information on the sequence of events, it is well illustrated with maps and archive photos that they have been able to assemble from a variety of sources…and it does make for some interesting reading about the Latin American region which we might otherwise have overlooked.
Military Model Scene

Overall and Hagedorn's exposé won't embarrass anyone in the present administration as the perpetrators are all long gone; but it's difficult not to draw parallels with the US-led Iraq invasion post-9-11.
Books Monthly