Dodd, Thomas J. 1935-

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Dodd, Thomas J. 1935-


Born March 29, 1935, in Washington, DC; children: three. Education: Attended Georgetown University, 1957; University of Barcelona, Spain, B.A.; also student at University of Santander, Spain, University of Iberoamericana, Mexico, and Johns Hopkins University, 1958-59; George Washington University, M.A., 1961, Ph.D. 1966. Hobbies and other interests: Squash, tennis, hiking, reading biographies.


Historian, educator, writer, and ambassador. Georgetown University, Washington, DC, assistant professor of history, 1966-74, director of Latin American studies program, 1966-73, associate professor, 1974-93, associate faculty member at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1981; U.S. ambassador to Republic of Uruguay, 1993-97; U.S. ambassador to Republic of Costa Rica, 1997-2001. Work-related activities include faculty adviser in Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama, 1969; policy and coordination staff office member, Department State, 1970-72; lecturer at Inter-American Defense College, Department State, 1971-86; member of Latin American discussion group, Brookings Institute, Washington, 1973; commentator, Panama Canal Treaties Debate, Public Affairs Radio, 1974-78; president of Inter-American Council of U.S., 1976-77, 1985; lecturer at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, 1982, 1985; visiting professor at the Defense Intelligence College, Washington, DC, 1984-93; member of examining board of Latin American scholarship program at American University, 1987; member of the examining board for Candidates for Fulbright Awards, Republic of Honduras, 1987. Military service: U.S. Army, 1958-61, attained rank of captain.


American Historical Association, Latin American Studies Association, Mid-Atlantic Association Latin American Studies, Conference on Latin American History, Center for Inter-American Relations, Caribbean Studies Association, World Affairs Council, Washington Area Modern Latin American Historians Forum, Council of Ambassadors, Pi Gamma Mu, Delta Phi Epsilon.


Commendation medal; Calouste Gulbenkian fellow, 1966; Fulbright fellow of Republic of Honduras, 1987; Organization of American States, research fellow, 1987; Distinguished Alumni award, Chesire Academy, 1993. Recipient of numerous grants including grants from the Gawaina Luster Faculty, 1971, Ford Foundation, 1982; Fulbright Foundation, 1986; New England Circle Foundation, 1989; and Walsh faculty grantee, 1991, 1992.


If Coexistence Fails: The Krushchev Visit Evaluated: An Analysis of Our Present Position in the Cold War and of the Diplomatic Crisis Confronting Us, U.S. Government Printing Office (Washington, DC), 1960.

(Editor) La Crisis de Panamá: Cartas de Tomás Herrán, 1900-1904, Banco de la Republica (Bogota, Colombia), 1985.

Managing Democracy in Central America: A Case Study: United States Election Supervision in Nicaragua, 1927-1933, North-South Center (Coral Gables, FL), 1992.

Tiburcio Carías: Portrait of a Honduran Political Leader, foreword by Douglas Brinkley, Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 2005.

Contributor of articles and book reviews on Latin America to professional journals.


Thomas J. Dodd is an historian and a former U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Uruguay and the Republic of Costa Rica from 1997-2001. A Fulbright fellow in the Republic of Honduras in 1987, Dodd is also the author of several books, including Tiburcio Carías: Portrait of a Honduran Political Leader. The book represents the first biography of Carías. The author especially focuses on Carías's career as head of the Honduran government from 1933 to 1949, giving Carías the distinction of having served longer in this position than anyone else.

Dodd describes a larger-than-life personality who was a political chameleon willing to employ liberal and conservative agendas as he fostered both constitutionalist government and his own dictatorship. "Modern Honduran history is rarely treated seriously outside the country," noted Dario A. Euraque in the Journal of Latin American Studies. "It is too often referred to as the so-called ‘classic Banana Republic’ and its complicated past is reduced to clichés and unsubstantiated claims. This is particularly the case when Honduras' leaders and their lives and times are analysed, whether they were scoundrels, military chieftains, wise intellectuals or peasants."

Dodd points out in his book that Carías did not employ draconian measures or military force like many other Latin American dictators, including Anastasio Samoza of Nicaragua and pre-Castro Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. Carías also avoided the sometimes violent fall from power associated with dictatorships in Latin America. Instead, the Honduran leader willingly stepped down after his term completion but still remained active in the country's political scene for the rest of his life. Carías also created the National Party, which remains a powerful political party in Honduras. "The period between General Carías' birth in 1876, his monopoly of power after democratic elections in 1932, and the end of his dictatorship early in 1949, demarcated critical watersheds in modern Honduran history," noted Euraque.

Dodd examines Carías's accomplishments within the context of how Carías's life reflected the themes and issues of Honduras at different points in history. Dodd explores Carías's involvement with U.S. banana companies, allowing them to gain a monopoly over the Honduran economy, as well as his overall subservient dealings with the United States on foreign policy issues. He did little to raise labor-class participation, and he practiced political authoritarianism. The author is particularly interested in how Carías maintained power through the media of his day, including radio, newspapers, and even the telegraph.

Dodd makes clear that, despite the authoritarian aspects of his regime, Carías remained relatively popular and politically unscathed during his rule in Honduras. The author also points out that there was a reason for this, namely his ability to gain the following of rural social and economic groups who had suffered greatly during many years of civil war. Carías's rise to power took time. He won the 1923 presidential election but was unable to serve because of civil war, and he lost the 1928 election. He won in 1932 only to see civil war break out again. Nevertheless, Carías took power in 1933 and, via an amendment to the Honduran constitution, kept power for many years, serving as president until 1949. For his book, the author accessed all the major Honduran archives and newspaper articles. Timothy Hawkins, writing in the American Historical Review, noted that some historians and political analysts believe that South American dictatorships had "positive elements as well." Hawkins wrote that Dodd "makes a compelling case for … [the] constructive side" of Carías's time as leader of Honduras. The author's research includes numerous interviews with Carías's descendants and former associates.



American Historical Review, April, 2006, Timothy Hawkins, review of Tiburcio Carías: Portrait of a Honduran Political Leader, p. 538.

Americas: A Quarterly Review of Inter-American Cultural History, October, 1987, Joseph L. Arbena, review of La Crisis de Panamá: Cartas de Tomás Herrán, 1900-1904, p. 256; April, 1994, Thomas M. Leonard, review of Managing Democracy in Central America: A Case Study: United States Election Supervision in Nicaragua, 1927-1933, p. 580; April, 2006, Michael D. Gambone, review of Tiburcio Carías, p. 693.

Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, November 18, 1989, Janet Hook, "Calls for Investigations Put Senate Panel on the Spot," p. 3132.

Hispanic American Historical Review, November, 1993, Neill Macaulay, review of Managing Democracy in Central America, p. 730.

Historian, spring, 2007, Dario A. Euraque, review of Tiburcio Carías, p. 109.

Journal of Latin American Studies, August, 2006, Dario A. Euraque, review of Tiburcio Carías, p. 637.

New York Times, March 9, 1989, Kirk Johnson, "In Dodd's Hometown, They Understand Debt to Tower," p. 13.

Social Science Quarterly, September, 1994, Jan S. Adams, review of Managing Democracy in Central America, p. 700.

Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, October 23, 1995, "Remarks at the Dedication of the Thomas J. Dodd Archives and Research Center in Storrs, Connecticut," p. 1839.


Council on Hemispheric Affairs Web site, (March 4, 2006), Matthew Beagle, "COHA Interview: Thomas J. Dodd on Uruguay's President Tabaré Vazquez.

Embassy of the United States of America, (August 17, 2008), biography of author.