In This Review

Somoza Falling
Somoza Falling
By Anthony Lake
Houghton Mifflin, 1989, 301 pp

The director of the State Department's Policy Planning staff during the Carter Administration, Anthony Lake provides a highly readable and illuminating account of the way the U.S. foreign policy machinery responded to the fall of Nicaraguan strongman Anastasio Somoza during 1978 and the first seven months of 1979. Emphasizing how foreign policy decisions are shaped by incomplete information, limited time, domestic political pressures to compromise and the decision-makers' inadequate grasp of the relevant history, Lake reminds us that a small country which became the obsessive focus of President Reagan's foreign policy in the 1980s was mostly ignored during the crucial months in 1978-79 when greater attention and creativity by U.S. policymakers might have made an important difference.