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Central America in the Crosshairs of War (Hardback)

On the Road from Vietnam to Iraq

Military > By Century > 20th Century

Imprint: George F. Thompson
Pages: 192
Illustrations: 90 photographs by the author (49 color; 41 b/w), 6 historic photographs, 7 montages (5 color; 2 blac
ISBN: 9781960521019
Published: 30th June 2024

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During the 1980s, the Reagan Administration financed and directed wars against popular movements in El Salvador and Nicaragua that left more than 300,000 dead and countless more wounded. Vowing to block “Soviet expansion,” the U.S. waged a Vietnam-style counterinsurgency against leftist rebels in El Salvador while orchestrating an illegal and covert war to overthrow the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. Some 75,000 died in El Salvador, mostly at the hands of U.S.-backed military and security forces, and more than 30,000 were killed in Nicaragua. Meanwhile, with tacit American support, the Guatemalan military razed hundreds of communities and killed an estimated 200,000 people during a 36-year civil war, including 100,000 Indigenous Mayan villagers.

Scott Wallace arrived in Central America in 1983 to cover the conflicts as a freelance “stringer” for CBS News and the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, and he would also later report for Newsweek, The Nation, The Independent, The Guardian, and other news organizations. Seeking to discern the truth in a region riddled with death and deception, Wallace evolved a distinctive style of field reporting that included photography, writing, and broadcast recordings. He stayed in the region throughout the decade, moving back and forth across national boundaries and battlelines to produce a unique body of work that includes the perspectives of opposing sides of the interwoven conflicts as well as their impacts on the noncombatants tragically caught in the middle. He later reported from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Situating the exercise of U.S. power on a continuum running from Vietnam through Central America to Iraq and the Middle East, Central America in the Crosshairs of War provides a rare look into the shocking real-life consequences of morally dubious policies while offering a gripping primer for aspiring foreign correspondents and field reporters. As Wallace reminds us, the multiple “troubles” associated today with America’s southern border—among them immigration, drugs, and crime—are in significant measure the result of misadventures undertaken by the U.S. during the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. He also shows a continuum in U.S. military affairs, from Vietnam to Central America and the Middle East.

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