Banana Republican Eric Rauchway Bibliography

Banana Republican: From the Buchanan File2.9 · Rating details ·  21 Ratings  ·  6 Reviews

Depicted as braggart, brute, and bore in The Great Gatsby, Tom Buchanan has gotten a bad rap and means to correct the record. That weak-kneed, simpering cousin of his wife’s, with his prattling about some lost idealized American individualism and rectitude, was not only a fool and a liar, but worse: a failed bond salesman. Pathetic. But by 1924 Tom has bigger problems thanDepicted as braggart, brute, and bore in The Great Gatsby, Tom Buchanan has gotten a bad rap and means to correct the record. That weak-kneed, simpering cousin of his wife’s, with his prattling about some lost idealized American individualism and rectitude, was not only a fool and a liar, but worse: a failed bond salesman. Pathetic. But by 1924 Tom has bigger problems than the pathos of the summer of ’22. First, there’s Aunt Gertrude, who has assumed control of the Buchanan fortune. Second, what with Daisy getting jowly and the maids indiscreet, there’s little tranquillity at home. Third, a revolution is brewing in Nicaragua that’s threatening to ensnare the family investments. So when Tom is dispatched to maneuver among Nicaragua’s international corporate intrigues, machine-gun-toting rival political parties, and competing American intelligence agencies, he spies his chance.

A rollicking, outrageous, and altogether brilliant perversion of known facts, Banana Republican sends the sexist, racist, elitist Buchanan careening through America’s brilliantly mismanaged intervention in Nicaragua in the early twentieth century. Eric Rauchway bends history to Buchanan’s memoir as Tom blunders, shoots, and screws his way through the historical record and makes the case that greed and amorality have always been at the heart of the American dream....more

Hardcover, 256 pages

Published June 22nd 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published June 15th 2010)

You remember Tom Buchanan, of course — sometime Yale football star and war hero and, most important, a relatively minor, yet pivotal, character in "The Great Gatsby." In F. Scott Fitzgerald's revered novel he is presented as a boor and a blunderer who somehow manages to do the right thing when his wife, Daisy, accidentally kills his mistress in a hit-and-run accident.


FOR THE RECORD:
"Banana Republican": In the Aug. 27 Calendar section, a review of "Banana Republican," Eric Rauchway's novel that describes what happens to Tom Buchanan in the years after F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel "The Great Gatsby," identified Buchanan as being a war hero. It was Gatsby, not Buchanan, who held this distinction. —

"They were careless people, Tom and Daisy," Fitzgerald wrote, "they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money and their vast carelessness … and let other people clean up the mess they had made." It is the marvelous conceit of Eric Rauchway, a historian who teaches at UC Davis, to imagine a sequel for Tom.

"Banana Republican" is set a couple of years after the events recounted in "Gatsby," and, frankly, things are not going so well for the Buchanans. Daisy, who remains an off-stage voice, is putting on weight and not putting out for Tom, who, humiliatingly, is also forced to apply to his stern and cranky Aunt Gertrude for the funds he requires to support their handsome way of life. This entails his making a trip to Nicaragua, circa 1924, to oversee his aunt's interest in Isthmian Transit and Radio Telegraph, a cynically imperialist attempt to construct a railroad that will profitably link two regions of the country. Currently, her plans are being thwarted by revolutionary conditions, with conservatives, liberals, an expeditionary force of U.S. Marines, the odd communist or two, and various mysterious characters contentiously representing the interests of several foreign nations, contending for control of this nation in embryo.

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