THE CONTRAS: A Reporter in the Jungles of Nicaragua by Christopher Dickey

THE CONTRAS: A Reporter in the Jungles of Nicaragua

Email this review


It's all here--somewhere--the fall of Somoza in 1979, the various revolutionary groups that founded the Sandinista coalition, the counterrevolutionary groups that coalesced to attempt its overthrow, and the CIA and its minions who backed the guerrillas. Unfortunately, Dickey's jerky and episodic style leaves the reader floundering in a morass of bewildering detail. In brief, we learn that although Carter had engineered Somoza's departure in hopes that a new government would be more progressive and perhaps a stabilizing force in Central America, Reagan regarded the Sandinistas as leftists and potential pawns of the USSR. He therefore set out to abet the overthrow of the new government. By that time, various anti-Sandinista groups were already operating out of Honduras under the aegis of Argentina, whose military government saw itself as the New World's first line of defense against Communism. In a series of video-like newsbreaks, with his voiceover filling in background information, Dickey tells the story of this ""secret war,"" which has involved virtually all of Central America. He is best when he concentrates on the rise and fall of Suicida, an ex-sergeant of Somoza's guardia who led one of the largest of the anti-Sandinista guerrilla groups. Dickey spent time with Suicida on a hair-raising assignment for the Washington Post during which he was nearly killed in an ambush. He relates Suicida's history starting with his escape from Nicaragua in the revolution's final days, through his rise as a guerrilla leader under the aegis of the Argentines and the shadowy presence of the CIA to his ""court-martial"" and death. At times, the book reads like Hemingway, at times like a collection of jotted notes for a proposed history. To those who'll trouble to piece the information into a coherent whole, it's a disturbing story of one small country which seems to have been pushed into the Soviet camp because larger nations thought it was going to go communist anyway.

Pub Date: Jan. 31st, 1985
Publisher: Simon & Schuster