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Under what conditions do the governments of developing countries manage to reform their way out of political and economic instability? When are they instead overwhelmed by the forces of social conflict? What role can great powers play in shaping one outcome or the other? This book is among the first to show in detail how the United States has used foreign economic policy, including foreign aid, as a tool for intervening in the developing world. Specifically, it traces how the United States promoted land reform as a vehicle for producing political stability. By showing where that policy proved stabilizing, and where it failed, a nuanced account is provided of how the local structure of the political economy plays a decisive role in shaping outcomes on the ground.