Understanding Central America

Global Forces, Rebellion, and Change


John A. Booth, Christine J. Wade, Thomas W. Walker

Sixth Edition • July 22, 2014 • 400 pages


Print ISBN: 9780813349589 • $43.00 USD$56.50 CAN

Ebook ISBN: 9780813349596 • $25.99 USD$25.99 CAN

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Understanding Central America explains how domestic, global, political, and economic forces have shaped rebellion and regime change in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras throughout their histories, during the often-turbulent 1970s and since. The authors explain the origins and development of the region’s political conflicts, their resolution and ongoing political change. This sixth edition provides analysis of citizens’ attitudes and participation through 2012 and up-to-date information on political changes in each of the five countries, including the 2013 and 2014 elections. Recent developments include dramatic changes in party systems in Honduras, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua; the extremely narrow victory of the newly elected FMLN president in El Salvador; and Guatemala’s prosecution of human rights abusers. This book is an essential resource, as it provides a comprehensive introduction to the region and a model for how to convey its complexities in accessible language.


John A. Booth is Regents Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of North Texas. He is the author of Costa Rica: Quest for Democracy.

Christine J. Wade is Associate Professor of Political Science and International Studies at Washington College. She is the co-author of Nicaragua: Living in the Shadow of the Eagle.

Thomas W. Walker is Professor Emeritus of Political Science and former Director of Latin American Studies Program at Ohio University. He is the co-author of Nicaragua: Living in the Shadow of the Eagle.

List of Tables and Illustrations
Preface
Acknowledgments
List of Acronyms

1 Crisis and Transformation

2 Global Forces and System Change in Central America
Poverty and Its Causes
Regime Change in Central America
Discussion

3 The Common History
Conquest to 1838
1838 to the Present

4 Costa Rica
Historical Background
Weathering Global Forces
The Economic Development Model Transformed
Changes in Politics and Parties
Contemporary Costa Rican Politics
Conclusions

5 Nicaragua
Historical Background
Global Forces and Insurrection
The Revolution
Replacing the Revolution
Contemporary Nicaraguan Politics
Conclusions

6 El Salvador
Historical Background
Global Forces and Insurrection
Government and Politics Since the Peace Accord
Conclusions

7 Guatemala
Historical Background
Global Forces and Conflict
The Civilian Transitional Regime and the Civil War
The Peace Accords and Contemporary Guatemalan Politics
Conclusions

8 Honduras
Historical Background
Weathering Global Forces
Contemporary Honduran Politics
Conclusions

9 Political Participation, Political Attitudes, and Democracy
Citizen Participation
Citizen Attitudes
Factors Shaping Attitudes and Participation
Conclusions

10 Power, Democracy, and U.S. Policy in Central America
The Problem of Power
Democracy,
Mobilization
The Roots of U.S. Policy in Central America
Communism in Central America
Demobilization in Central America
U.S. Policy in the Post–Cold War Period
Conclusions

11 Reflections and Projections
Reflections: Repression, Mobilization, and Democratic Transition
Projections: Prospects for Democratic Consolidation
Conclusions

Appendix
Notes
About Authors
Index

Praise for prior editions:

“Understanding Central America remains the most comprehensive and indispensable textbook for courses on Central American politics. It offers a classic interpretation of the roots of civil wars and U.S. interventions in late twentieth-century Central America. This new edition has been reorganized and updated to address the region’s post-war issues of the twenty-first century, incorporating new scholarship relevant for analysis over the long run.”

—Susanne Jonas, University of California, Santa Cruz

“A ‘must read’ for anyone interested in this complex and volatile area of the world.”

—Mitchell A. Seligson, Vanderbilt University

“This volume is without doubt the best comprehensive examination of Central American politics and society. The book represents a good balance between an intellectually sophisticated analysis and a clear, concise approach readily accessible for undergraduate students.”

—Orlando J. Perez, Central Michigan University; President, Midwest Association for Latin American Studies

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