As Director of Latin American affairs for the National Security Council under President Carter, Pastor was at the center of the US decision-making that helped overthrow Nicaraguan dictator Somoza and set the course of US-Sandinista relations. Though his book reads like a State Department briefing, and often lapses into preachy prose, it nevertheless illuminates the many components that go into Washington's making of history. Pastor begins with a history of US-Nicaraguan relations (including little-known information about the extent to which Panama and Venezuela forced the US' hand in the overthrow of Somoza), takes it through the Sandinista triumph, and brings it up-to-date with an overview of Reagan's tough stance. To his credit, Pastor believes the US should find a way to bring its power in line with its principles. He shows how Reagan's obsession with ""strategic concerns"" in Nicaragua has led him--according to Pastor--to flout both international and US law. Arguing for a pragmatic, regional policy, Pastor thinks that the ""big stick"" will lead the US to repeat its past mistakes. Meticuously detailed, this insider's account, despite its dry tone, provides a vital document in recent US history and offers an excellent case study for anyone interested in the labyrinthine byways of Washington's foreign-policy-making.