Our own backyard : the United States in Central America, 1977-1992 /

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Main Author: LeoGrande, William M.
Format: Book
Published:Chapel Hill, NC : University of North Carolina Press, c1998.
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Review by Choice Review

LeoGrande (American Univ.) has produced a superlative effort in at least three different respects. First, this is a tightly documented history of US-Central American relations during the waning years of the Cold War. The author presents, in graphic detail, the mind-sets and actions of the cold warriors in Washington and their critics in meeting the perceived challenge to long-standing US dominance in Central America. Second, the book is a marvelous investigation of how foreign policy is really made, with all the tensions both within and between the executive branch bent on pursuing Cold War initiatives in Central America and a Congress bitterly divided on the issue. Third, and perhaps most importantly, the book is extremely well written. Although heavily documented--130 pages of footnotes and 21 pages of bibliography--LeoGrande brings history to life in 589 pages of the most definitive and instructive history of what he calls "the last battle of the Cold War." History is made by people, and people in Washington and in Central America are presented here with all their fancies and foibles intact. This reviewer simply cannot praise this book too much. This rare combination of outstanding scholarship and exciting presentation should be required reading for practitioners, professors, and students alike. E. A. Duff; emeritus, Randolph-Macon Woman's College

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

This important exposé documents the full extent of the Reagan administration's lies, deceptions, subterfuges and cover-ups in waging a covert war against Nicaragua's Sandinistas and in supporting El Salvador's right-wing oligarchy in its war against leftist guerrillas. While the Iran-Contra hearing would reveal how Reagan's White House aides diverted profits from arms sales to support the CIA-backed contra army, LeoGrande, an American University government professor who worked on congressional Democratic committees that helped shape U.S. Central American policy in the mid-'80s, digs deeper, drawing hundreds of his own interviews with members of Congress, Reagan and Bush staffers and Central American officials. He argues convincingly that Reagan hardliners‘notably Jeane Kirkpatrick, William Casey, Edwin Meese, William Clark‘wrested day-to-day control of Central American policy away from the State Department. Ideologically committed (as was Reagan) to purging the national psyche of the "Vietnam syndrome" by means of a quick, decisive victory over communism in Central America, these hardliners worked to circumvent congressional restraints and derail dialogue with the Sandinistas. LeoGrande credits pragmatic President Bush with encouraging the diplomatic process that led to the Sandinistas' electoral defeat in 1990 and acerbically points out that the negotiated settlement that ended El Salvador's civil war in 1992 was strikingly similar to a peace proposal made by Salvadorean guerrillas 11 years earlier. Full of unorthodox, original perspectives, LeoGrande's clearly written, magisterial study holds timely post-Cold War lessons that transcend the Central American setting. Editor, Elaine Maisner; UNC foreign rights contact, Vicky Wells. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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