Cruz has a râ€šsumâ€š to knock your socks off: Sandinista revolutionary, contra leader, game-player with the CIA and KGB, lover of Fawn Hall, writer for The New Republic. Too bad that his book, by burying itself in the details of intra-Nicaraguan politics, won't allow the author to add crackerjack writer to the list. Not that there aren't bits to admire. Cruz works hard to energize his childhood reminiscences, writing of his crazy uncle David (obsessed with memorizing the dictionary) and of life under Somoza (one of whose sons reportedly assassinated another of Cruz's uncles). He remembers wryly the time Howard Hughes landed in Managua, inflaming the greed of Tachito Somoza: ""Hughes was rich in American dollars. Tachito only owned a small country."" His account of the rise of the Sandinistas--whom he paints as pro-Soviet from the start--has the punch of a firsthand account, as does his report of why he eventually joined the contras (Sandinista mismanagement and brutality). But all this is so tied up with Nicaraguan history, customs, and the interminable squabbling of unlikable politicians that it's hard to see how North American readers will feel at home. On the other hand, who can resist the image of Ollie North proposing that we bomb Cuba with plane-loads of poisonous snakes? Oh--and the scoop on Fawn is no scoop at all: ""She was stunning"" is as far as Cruz goes. As this suggests, for informed Central American watchers only.