A Twilight Struggle by Robert Kagan
It all seems so remote today, but in the summer of 1979, with the cold war still very much on, a Marxist-led guerrilla movement, the Sandinistas, came to power by force of arms in the small Central American country of Nicaragua. Over the next ten years, three American Presidents—Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush—found themselves entangled to varying degrees in the ensuing civil war. In the end, the United States succeeded in isolating the pro-Soviet revolutionaries; their dictatorship was finally toppled in 1990 by one of the more improbable expedients ever used to dislodge a Communist regime—free elections.
How this all came to pass is the subject of Robert Kagan’s A Twilight Struggle: American Power and Nicaragua 1977-1990. As an official in the Reagan State Department who for a time helped carry out U.S. policy toward Nicaragua, Kagan occupied a well-situated perch from which to observe the events that are the substance of his book. A Twilight Struggle is not, however, a policymaker’s memoir but a historical narrative, the product of prodigious research that draws together congressional testimony, press reports, recently declassified U.S.-government documents, and interviews with high-ranking American and Nicaraguan officials. It is unquestionably the most revealing and comprehensive account of its topic we are ever likely to see in print.
About the Author
Mark Falcoff is resident scholar emeritus at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.