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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harsh truths for Sandinistas, Contras -- and Americans
I was a foreign correspondent in Nicaragua for much of the period covered by Kinzer's book. Typically, American correspondents came and went every couple of years; Kinzer was there before the victory of the 1979 revolution and stayed to the end of a most bloody chapter in this country's history. I do not believe anyone has captured better the strange, almost surreal...
Published on June 12, 1999

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but a bit granular
Read this book in preparation for a study trip with a nonprofit to Nicaragua. As it's written by a NY Times reporter, it's a bit granular, and a challenging read. You're not going to read it cover to cover in one sitting. But, it's a good resource as to how United States' policy in Central America has contributed to some of the problems that Nicaragua is facing today.
Published 13 months ago by 2goldens


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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harsh truths for Sandinistas, Contras -- and Americans, June 12, 1999
By A Customer
I was a foreign correspondent in Nicaragua for much of the period covered by Kinzer's book. Typically, American correspondents came and went every couple of years; Kinzer was there before the victory of the 1979 revolution and stayed to the end of a most bloody chapter in this country's history. I do not believe anyone has captured better the strange, almost surreal beauty of this land nor the full horror of the bloodbath it had suffered by the end of the 1980s. Those looking for finger-pointing and the moral of the story will be disappointed; but what Kinzer depicts is the truth, a harsh one for all involved.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book filled with insight on life in Nicaragua during, August 8, 1999
By A Customer
...the late 1970's-1980's period. I read this book after having spent time in Central America myself. I think Steven did a wonderful job of telling the truth about what happened in Nicaragua during the years he was there. He showed where the Sandinistas failed, and where the U.S. government failed the people of Nicaragua. Throughout the whole book he really made the reader aware of the stories that these people lived out; from a engineer from Portland, Oregon going down to help out, to the children in the hospitals suffering from war wounds. There is a large amount of history, personal experience, and cultural images to be gained from reading by book.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Thrilling Journey of a NYT Reporter, September 23, 2005
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Being a refugee who left the country as a child I never got an unbiased look at what really happened until I read this amazing book. It starts off before the takeover of the country by the communist Sandinistas to after the stunning election over a decade later. Stephen Kizer describes thrilling journeys where bombs go off at news conferences and clandestine stumblings into a contra camp. This book has humor (Rice for Peace?!), sadness (the 30,000 faceless people who died in the middle), to the mystical (a fair and poignant treatment of the Miskito Indians). Also the books details the visit of the Pope to Nicaragua which would headline news for various reasons as well as singer Kris Kristofferson (!) lending support to the Sandinista regime whose leaders soon afterwards head off to friendly nations of Libya and the Soviet Union. This book could almost be descibed as the definitive encylopedia of information but it's so much more: If my family hadn't lived through it it would almost read as a spy novel. There is also plenty of photos showing the major players of the conflict as well as personal photos of the author.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE LAND OF THE FREE AND HOME OF THE BRAVE?, April 26, 2010
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This review is from: Blood of Brothers: Life and War in Nicaragua, With New Afterword (Series on Latin American Studies) (Paperback)
I was introduced to Stephen Kinzer's work by an Iranian (said he was really Persian) shopkeeper after we had some long conversations while buying a rug. I purchased a copy of All the Shah's Men by his recommendation and a rug. Later I bought Overthrow and then found an old copy of Bitter Fruit.

I recently returned from a trip to Nicaragua and bought a copy of Susan Meiselas' Nicaragua photos and the subsequent film she made. That led me to purchasing Kinzer's Blood of Brothers which I thoroughly enjoyed. Blood of Brothers gave me a real feel for the country I was visiting and some insight into who the people are and what they have been through. I'm amazed, as a Norteamericano, that I was so well recieved in Nicaragua.

Kinzer's books are informative and his journalistic writing style gives a security that he is doing his best to tell an accurate story without any particular position. It is sad that our government doesn't seem capable of learning from the past.

I watched a CNN special on Cambodia and a couple of quotes from Francois Pouchand tell the truth as ugly as it is. "The governments did not react. You know, countries don't defend human rights. They are always subservient to politics". "Governments are cold beasts looking out for their own interests".

I love my country but our foreign policies are no better than any other country. We may profess democracy and freedom but in the end we support, with might and force, the narrow interest of a few. Usually those narrow interests are not those of the American people nor the people being crushed in various countries.

I'd recommend all of Kinzer's works.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent, but a bit slanted, October 4, 2010
By 
Stephen C. Hampton (Davis, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Blood of Brothers: Life and War in Nicaragua, With New Afterword (Series on Latin American Studies) (Paperback)
I agree with much of the previous reviews-- a very thorough and rich account with nice flourishes of history and culture as well. I learned a lot. I did find, however, especially in the second half of the book, a pattern of blaming Sandinista policies without the caveat that these policies were driven by the Contra War. For example, Kinzer repeatedly says the economy is crashing due to the Sandinistas' failed economic policies, but hardly mentions the US trade embargo, which had a huge impact (arguably more than the war itself). The shortages caused by the embargo figure prominently in other first-hand accounts of life in Managua in the 1980s. In Kinzer's Afterword, he fails to mention on-going US confrontation wrt to Nicaragua, such as the Helms Amendment, requiring Nicaragua to essentially pay reparations to former Guardsmen (now "American citizens") who lost their property in the Revolution. Even Obama continues to enforce this requirement today.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fairly objective look at revolution in Nicaragua, February 22, 1999
By A Customer
Good comprehensive book on the causes and outcomes of Revolution in Nicaragua. Does a pretty good job of not taking sides. Kinzer was bureau chief in Nicaragua for the New York Times during the 80's. He sheds light on alot of the hypocricies and contraditions the CIA, Contras and Sandinistas were all guilty of.
Not for the Radical Sandinista or Reactionary Conservative
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The civil war in Nicaragua, November 8, 2007
By 
Kevin M Quigg (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Blood of Brothers: Life and War in Nicaragua, With New Afterword (Series on Latin American Studies) (Paperback)
I am a fan of Steve Kinzer. This is my fourth read from him. I have previously read his books on Guatemala, Turkey, and Iran. I have yet to read his book Overthrow, but I own it. He has a good conversational writting style and I find his books interesting. I understand he is now stationed in Chicago.

This is the second book Kinzer authored. I think he describes the conflict in Nicaragua well. Although Steve is a correspondent for the N.Y. Times, there was a slant to his writing. However he describes the fall of Somoza and the rise and fall of the Sandinistas well. Both groups were dictators. The conflict of the contras, FSLN, the Catholic Church, and the American government of Reagan was the last of the Cold War. Kinzer is critical of the FSLN as well. There many problems resulted in them being voted out of office in 1990. All of this is related in his biography of the conflict.

This is a great read. Kinzer does a nice job with each of his books. I recommend this author.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fair, Honest Account of Life & War in Nicaragua, September 19, 2009
This review is from: Blood of Brothers: Life and War in Nicaragua, With New Afterword (Series on Latin American Studies) (Paperback)
A great political history of Nicaragua, focusing intently on the Sandinista revolution that toppled the Somoza regime, fought the counter-revolution Contras, lost power in the first real democratic and free elections, and now has taken control again.

I like the Mr. Kinzer points out that the Sandinistas made three critical errors that lead to their losing the election of 1990: #1 "they believed they could build Nicaragua into a prosperous country without deferring to the principles of free enterprise"; #2 "they grossly underestimated the moral influence of Catholic bishops and, in particular, the esteem in which Nicaraguans held their spiritual leader, Cardinal Obando"; and #3 "they abused Miskito Indians and other ethnic minorities who had lived peaceably for centuries along the Atlantic coas, provoking a rebellion that attracted widespread sympathy both within Nicaragua and around the world."

After surprisingly losing the presidential election of 1990 to Violeta Chamorro, Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas are back in control of Nicaragua. I can only hope that they will govern more successfully this time.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fairly objective look at revolution in Nicaragua, February 22, 1999
By A Customer
Good comprehensive book on the causes and outcomes of Revolution in Nicaragua. Does a pretty good job of not taking sides. Kinzer was bureau chief in Nicaragua for the New York Times during the 80's. He sheds light on alot of the hypocricies and contraditions the CIA, Contras and Sandinistas were all guilty of.
Not for the Radical Sandinista or Reactionary Conservative
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blood of Brothers, January 25, 2008
This review is from: Blood of Brothers: Life and War in Nicaragua, With New Afterword (Series on Latin American Studies) (Paperback)
An excellent recent history of the struggles and conflicts in Nicaragua. It clarified the situation there. Even having been in Nicaragua, it seemed most difficult to get to the factual source of conflict there. It is a difficult subject for Nicaraguans to speak about as they try to unify and uplift life for their people.
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Blood of Brothers: Life and War in Nicaragua, With New Afterword (Series on Latin American Studies)
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