Book Review: Wars of Latin America, 1948-1982: The Rise of the Guerrillas

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by René de la Pedraja

Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2013. Pp. x, 364. Illus., maps, tables, notes, biblio., index. $49.95 paper. ISBN: 0786470151

The Age of the Guerrilla in Latin American

Prof. de la Pedraja (Canisius), author of Wars of Latin America, 1899-1941, continues his series on wars in Latin America during the twentieth century with the conflicts of the Cold War era, down to the eve of the fall of the Soviet Union. As in his earlier works, for each war he covers the origins of the conflict, the personalities, the forces, and the events in a readable narrative; and then discusses the results. As the sub-title indicates, this particular volume covers the era of the guerrilla: all but two of the conflicts covered were internal revolutionary struggles.  

De la Pedraja makes a number of interesting observations. Unlike earlier periods, this era saw frequent ties between the various revolutionary movements, primarily due to their Marxist orientation. He notes that despite perceptions, fueled in part by anti-Marxist propaganda from the Right and by rebel sympathizers on the Left, the insurgents were often inept, ill-organized, and unsuccessful. Perhaps most importantly, since regional elites often branded anyone who called for liberal reform as Marxist radicals, thus sparking knee-jerk American intervention, genuine radical revolutionary movements often arouse from movements for modest reform. 

As is the case with de la Pedraja’s earlier study of the wars of the first half of the twentieth century, this is a useful work for anyone interested in the history of Latin America, particularly of U.S. relations with the region, and for students of guerrilla warfare and insurgency.

Note: Wars of Latin America, 1948-1982 is also available as an ePub, ISBN 978-0-4799-0293-6.

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Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   


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