The Cold War's Last Battlefield

Reagan, the Soviets, and Central America

By Edward A. Lynch

Subjects: Presidency, The, United States Foreign Policy, Latin American Studies
Imprint: Distribution Partners
Paperback : 9781438439488, 349 pages, July 2013
Hardcover : 9781438439495, 349 pages, December 2011

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Table of contents

1. What Reagan Faced
2. Infighting: Wars over U.S. Foreign Policy
3. Opening Moves: The “Final Offensive,” 1981
4. Making Enemies in Nicaragua, 1979-1982
5. The Wars Escalate, 1982-1983
6. The End of the Brezhnev Doctrine, 1983
7. Muddying (and Mining) the Waters, 1984-1985
8. The War at Home, 1981-1986
9. The Iran-Contra Scandal, 1986-1987
10. Another Year, Another Peace Plan, 1987
11. Endgame
12. Reagan’s Legacy
Epilogue: Central America and the War on Terror

An engaging insider's account by a member of President Reagan's Central America policy team.


Central America was the final place where U.S. and Soviet proxy forces faced off against one another in armed conflict. In The Cold War's Last Battlefield, Edward A. Lynch blends his own first-hand experiences as a member of the Reagan Central America policy team with interviews of policy makers and exhaustive study of primary source materials, including once-secret government documents, in order to recount these largely forgotten events and how they fit within Reagan's broader foreign policy goals. Lynch's compelling narrative reveals a president who was willing to risk both influence and image to aggressively confront Soviet expansion in the region. He also demonstrates how the internal debates between competing sides of the Reagan administration were really an argument about the basic thrust of U.S. foreign policy, and that they anticipated, to a remarkable degree, policy discussions following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

Edward A. Lynch is Professor of Political Science and Chair of the Political Science Department at Hollins University. He is the author of Starting Over: A Political Biography of George Allen; Latin America's Christian Democratic Parties: A Political Economy; and Religion and Politics in Latin America: Liberation Theology and Christian Democracy.


"This thought-provoking narrative of Reagan's foreign policy in Central America would be an asset to any library." — CHOICE

"Academia is sometimes criticized for not including analyses that are sympathetic to conservative values and to Ronald Reagan in particular. This book is a clear refutation of that allegation, enriched by the author's personal experience in the Reagan administration. This thorough review remains timely, especially given how frequently Reagan is used both by supporters and detractors as a lodestar for what to pursue or avoid." — Lowell S. Gustafson, coeditor of National and Human Security Issues in Latin America: Democracies at Risk