WORTH IT ALL by Jim Wright


My War for Peace
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 Provocative tale of US Latin-American policy, by a major participant. Wright gained notoriety in 1989 when he resigned as Speaker of the House because of financially based ethics charges (charges that, in light of the scandals that followed--S&L, BCCI, Iran- contra--may strike many as not terribly damning). Here, however, he focuses on the longtime role he played in Central American affairs. Wright suggests that, over a period of decades, policies intended to aid social progress in Latin America were first promoted (under JFK), then thought inconvenient (under LBJ, enmeshed in Vietnam), and finally considered a severe aggravation (under the Reagan Administration, which saw Central American nations as cold-war pawns). The bedrock of Wright's text is his long and successful personal experience with Latin Americans, going back to childhood. To those who see Central America in left/right political terms, the author says that what Latin Americans want is not speeches but clean water, bathrooms, and electricity. Damning incidents abound here, notably Congress's refusal to back Jimmy Carter's modest $75- million aid package to post-Somoza Nicaragua while the Cubans were sending teachers, health workers, and medical supplies--as well as the demise of an earlier plan, backed by US businessmen, to provide Dominicans with plants to process their own oranges and tomatoes. Wright sees these debacles as failures to compete with the left in nonmilitary terms. Meanwhile, his observations on CIA activity in the area, going back to the overthrow of Guatemala's Arbenz and Chile's Allende, make it plain that the Company (as well as some giant corporations) has for decades established the tone of our Latin American policy. Did the right do Wright in, as he charges here? Was he made an ``eye for an eye'' sacrifice to atone for the Senate's refusal to confirm conservative John Tower as Reagan's secretary of defense? Perhaps--but there's no question that Wright's memoir offers much stimulating food for thought. (First printing of 25,000)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-02-881075-9
Page count: 320pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1993


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