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The Salvador Option
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Book description

El Salvador's civil war between the Salvadoran government and Marxist guerrillas erupted into full force in early 1981 and endured for eleven bloody years. Unwilling to tolerate an advance of Soviet and Cuban-backed communism in its geopolitical backyard, the US provided over six billion dollars in military and economic aid to the Salvadoran government. El Salvador was a deeply controversial issue in American society and divided Congress and the public into left and right. Relying on thousands of archival documents as well as interviews with participants on both sides of the war, The Salvador Option offers a thorough and fair-minded interpretation of the available evidence. If success is defined narrowly, there is little question that the Salvador Option achieved its Cold War strategic objectives of checking communism. Much more difficult, however, is to determine what human price this 'success' entailed - a toll suffered almost entirely by Salvadorans in this brutal civil war.


'Crandall is an elegant writer and keen storyteller, and The Salvador Option covers an important but little-understood episode of the Cold War with considerable historical and analytical skill. For students of U.S. foreign policy, diplomats with an eye on Central America, or even casual film buffs wondering if Oliver Stone has any idea what El Salvador is really like, this book is essential reading.'

Benjamin Russell Source: Americas Quarterly

'The great virtue of Crandall’s comprehensive overview of US foreign policy toward this small Central American country is the balance and fairness with which he tells the story. Building chiefly on secondary sources, Crandall (Davidson College) describes the emergence and evolution of revolutionary conflict in El Salvador from the late 1970s to the early 1990s and shows how foreign powers influenced the ongoing war … This well-written book is recommended for scholars and general readers alike.'

M. Amstutz Source: Choice

'At the time of its publication, there was no other book on the market that provided a comprehensive survey of US policy in El Salvador in the 1980s, and Crandall did us a service by assembling this one.'

Erik Ching Source: Latin American Research Review

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