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Nicaragua, 1961-1990, Volume 2

Nicaragua, 1961-1990, Volume 2 Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review October 2019 Title Nicaragua, 1961-1990, Volume 2
Author David Francois Publisher Helion
Published 2019 ISBN 9781911628682
Format 80 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $29.95


David Francois concludes his two-part study of Cold War fighting with Nicaragua, 1961-1990, Volume 2: The Contra War – 15th in Helion’s outstanding “Latin America@War” series.

Available in North America from Casemate, contents span 80 pages across eight chapters. And the account unfolds in typically thorough “@War” fashion.

Addenda and errata to Volume 1 kick-start commentary. And subsequent sections chronologically cover growing FSLN ties to Soviet-bloc countries, resulting anti-Sandinista insurgencies, and international efforts to stop fighting.

It’s full of fascinating facts. Seeking details of the only air-to-air victory in Nicaragua’s fighting? How about a shot of that ultra-rare Guardia Nacional Fiat-Ansaldo CV-33 tankette? Look here.

Coverage raises intriguing questions, too. Nicaraguan T-28s, for instance, sported Sud-Aviation Fennec-style canopies. Were they of French origin?

Francois’s picture-packed effort features dozens of rare photos – including a page of color shots. Maps put actions into geographic perspectives. And 19 color plates – three military vehicles by David Bocquelet, 13 aircraft by Tom Cooper, and three uniforms by Anderson Subtil – provide potent project potential.

Extended, explanatory captions also accompany all. And abbreviations, tables, sidebars, annotations, and bibliographic notes further supplement the study. Butsome annotation sources do not appear among references.

The number of Sandinista fighters in July 1979 also differs from Volume 1’s total. And with FSLN-Cuban interaction during the revolution, the author’s claim that “the Soviet Union never had any contact with the Sandinistas until the fall of Somoza” beggars belief.

Finally, Francois calls the MiG-21bis “ill-suited for the kind of operations they [the FAS] ran against the Contras”. But if Sandinistas could assign 110 T-55 MBTs to defense against American invasion, why would they necessarily restrict MiG-21s to counter-insurgency roles alone?

Did Violeta Chamorro’s 1990 election victory mark “the end of the last revolutionary utopia of the 20th century”? Not really. But I quibble. If you seek a competent, balanced chronicle of Nicaragua’s Sandinista heyday, look here.


My sincere thanks to Casemate Publishing for this review sample!