Our Own Backyard: The United States in Central America, 1977-1992

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9780807823958: Our Own Backyard: The United States in Central America, 1977-1992
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In this remarkable and engaging book, William LeoGrande offers the first comprehensive history of U.S. foreign policy toward Central America in the waning years of the Cold War. From the overthrow of the Somoza dynasty in Nicaragua and the outbreak of El Salvador's civil war in the late 1970s to the final regional peace settlements negotiated a decade later, he chronicles the dramatic struggles--in Washington and Central America--that shaped the region's destiny.
For good or ill, LeoGrande argues, Central America's fate hinged on decisions that were subject to intense struggles among, and within, Congress, the CIA, the Pentagon, the State Department, and the White House--decisions over which Central Americans themselves had little influence. Like the domestic turmoil unleashed by Vietnam, he says, the struggle over Central America was so divisive that it damaged the fabric of democratic politics at home. It inflamed the tug-of-war between Congress and the executive branch over control of foreign policy and ultimately led to the Iran-contra affair, the nation's most serious political crisis since Watergate.



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"What began as a relatively bounded project examining the domestic debate over Central America evolved into a comprehensive history of U.S. policy toward the region during its decade of crisis--how policy was made, how it worked, and how the administration tried to sell it to the American people."

According to William LeoGrande, American involvement in Central America in the 1970s and '80s can be understood only in the context of the Cold War, and its greater struggle against the Soviet Union. Central America--and by this William LeoGrande means mainly El Salvador and Nicaragua--was simply one of several stages upon which these political war games were played. This was especially true during the Reagan years, during which U.S. policy "shifted from Carter's attempts to seek a negotiated settlement in El Salvador, and coexistence with the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, to Reagan's effort to achieve military victory for the Salvadoran government, and the ouster of the Sandinistas by covert proxy war."

In Our Own Backyard, LeoGrande traces the evolution of American policy in Central America as well as its reception by the Congress and people of the United States. He discusses the schisms within Reagan's own ranks, the struggle between the Republican White House and the Democratic congress, and how the ever-present shadow of Vietnam continued to shape American attitudes well into the 1990s. This is a book that liberals will love and conservatives will find plenty to disagree with.

Book Description:

"Compelling and elegantly written. . . . [LeoGrande] has risen above partisanship to produce a book central to any historical evaluation of those troubled times."-- Foreign Affairs

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9780807848579: Our Own Backyard: The United States in Central America, 1977-1992

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ISBN 10:  0807848573 ISBN 13:  9780807848579
Publisher: The University of North Carolina..., 2000
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