In This Review

Crisis In Central America: Regional Dynamics And U.S. Policy In The 1980s
Crisis In Central America: Regional Dynamics And U.S. Policy In The 1980s
Edited by Nora Hamilton and others
Westview Press, 1988, 272 pp
Purchase

In their introduction, the editors of these conference papers see a need for "constructive alternatives" to present policies toward Central America, noting the contributors' consensus that the Reagan Administration "has failed in its efforts to reassert U.S. hegemony" there. But the volume's strength is not policy ideas; the first chapter notes only that congressmen (like many Americans) are "trapped between their opposition to communism and their opposition to U.S. troop commitments." Half of the authors, mostly academics, reside in Central America, and so add a valuable perspective to the U.S. debate. Especially good are two chapters on El Salvador, one by Ricardo Stein of that country. Two chapters each on the economy and the nature of war in Central America (including a detailed description of the Guatemalan counterinsurgency) are also informative, even if one disagrees with some of the opinions.