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Blood on the Border : A Memoir of the Contra War Paperback – November 1, 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: South End Press; 1st Ed. edition (November 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0896087417
  • ISBN-13: 978-0896087415
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,293,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"...a memoirist of great skills and even greater heart. She’s a force of nature on the page and off." -- Dave Eggers, author of

"...foreign policy today is being shaped by veterans of the savage Washington-backed Contra war...the secret history of that intervention." -- Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz and Ecology of Fear

"Dunbar Ortiz’ story is an exciting and sobering read which holds valuable lessons for today’s ongoing struggles for justice." -- Margaret Randall, Author of When I Look Into the Mirror and See You: Women, Terror & Resistance

"This is an impressive, astounding and truthful historical document." -- Gioconda Belli, author of The Country Under My Skin

"exploration of the gray zones between the indigenous Miskitos in Nicaragua and Sandinistas. An important book, and a gripping one." -- Rebecca Solnit, author of Hope in the Dark and Rivers of Shadows

From the Back Cover

Unlike the many commentators who view the September 11, 2001 attacks as the start of the "War on Terror," in Blood on the Border legendary human rights activist and historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz offers firsthand testimony on battles waged much earlier. The long-awaited third volume in her critically-acclaimed memoir is a disarming account of the decade-long dirty war pursued by US-backed Contras against the people of Nicaragua

While her rich political analysis bears the mark of a trained historian, she also writes from her perspective as a committed activist who spent months at a time throughout the 1980s in Nicaragua, especially in the remote Mosquitia region where the indigenous Miskitu people were viciously assailed and nearly wiped out by CIA-trained Contra mercenaries.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Davis D. Joyce on December 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz has a remarkable ability to tell her personal story in a broader historical context--the mark, I suppose, of a good memoir. This is her third such volume. The first, RED DIRT: GROWING UP OKIE, is still my favorite, but that may just be in part because I have the experience of trying to be a radical in Oklahoma. That book traces her life from poor, part Native American roots to 60s radicalism (including wonderful stories about her Wobbly--IWW, International Workers of the World--grandfather. The second volume, OUTLAW WOMAN: A MEMOIR OF THE WAR YEARS, 1960-1975, focused on Dunbar-Ortiz's involvement in the anti-Vietnam War movement and the feminist movement.

Now, she has completed the series (but not, hopefully, the peace and justice work she so obviously passionately believes in) with BLOOD ON THE BORDER: A MEMOIR OF THE CONTRA WAR. Dunbar-Ortiz is brutally honest about the problems in her life, including relationships and alcoholism. She is also brutally honest about the role of US imperialism in Latin America. Just one of the revelations for me was the recycling of figures from this era such as Negroponte by the current Bush. This is a very interesting, even important book. Read it. And weep? For Dunbar-Ortiz sounds a bit pessimistic at the end, one might say. "Nicaragua was the last great hope for national liberation movements to succeed in breaking free from imperialism," she writes. But she continues (and concludes the book): "The historical process of nation building that occcurred with the rise of capitalism in Western Europe has reached its limits.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By R. Jacobs on November 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
A Review of Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz's Blood on the Border



To many of us in the United States, the US contra war against the Nicaraguan government in the 1980s seems like very long ago. Since the CIA-manufactured defeat of the revolutionary government in Managua--a defeat that included mercenary war, media manipulations, CIA and Special Forces covert ops, drug-running and arms smuggling by people paid by the US government, and a sham election staged by Washington--the US has militarily invaded Iraq twice, Yugoslavia, and Afghanistan. A mere three months before that sham election, Washington invaded and overthrew the Panamanian government as if warning Nicaraguans what was in store for them should they vote against the US-sponsored candidates. In addition, Washington has instigated and assisted regime change in El Salvador, several countries in the former Soviet Bloc, and a few nations in Latin America, to name just a few regions of the world that come immediately to mind. Besides these "successes", Washington has failed to overthrow the Bolivarian government in Venezuela or the governments of its eternal enemies--Cuba and northern Korea. One can be certain, however, that these attempts are ongoing. On top of all this, Washington has forced so-called free trade agreements on most countries around the world, especially those in what global capitalists like to call the developing word. These agreements are designed, of course, to maintain Washington and Wall Street's neocolonial hold.

Given all of this, it is good to see Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz's latest effort Blood on the Border hit the bookstores.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John Green on June 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
"US officials railed against the Sandinistas for nationalizing property, but they had never criticized the dictator Somoza for personally owning much of the country..."

Blood on the Border is Roxanne Dunbar-Oritz's maddening search for identity amidst the life-or-death Sandinista Revolution and collapsing social movements in the U.S. during the Ronald Reagan `80s.

As a witness to many great crimes against humanity, the author deftly balances between her own struggles with alcohol, humanizing the Nicaraguan people (especially the misunderstood and maligned indigenous Miskitu people) and recounting harrowing run-ins with "the other side" in the form of CIA agents, State Department officials, mercenary guns-for-hire, Christian fundamentalists and Somozistas.

This is a well-written, important contribution to the history of the Sandinista Revolution and the U.S. Left in the 1980s. Specifically, its unique focus on the role of indigenous people in a wider social revolution is invaluable. The misunderstandings with the Sadinistatas and manipulation of the Miskitu and other Atlantic Coast Indians by the U.S./Contras is telling of the present war on Iraq's ethnic conflict.

The author's post-Maoist politics shine through her actions--including her obsession with the United Nations--and leads one to wonder if her tremendous knowledge, talents and convictions might have been more helpful had they not brought her to UN conference after conference?

The better we understand Nicaragua and the United States' dirty war against the Sandinistas, the better we will be poised to confront today's imperialism. After all, the author observes, from then-U.S. Ambassador to Honduras John Negroponte to then-Reagan advisor Donald Rumsfeld, it's a lot of the same cretins running the show today.
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