Understanding Central America: Global Forces, Rebellion, and Change / Edition 5

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The fifth edition of Understanding Central America explains how domestic and global political and economic forces have shaped rebellion and regime change in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. John A. Booth, Christine J. Wade, and Thomas W. Walker explore the origins and development of the region’s political conflicts and its efforts to resolve them. Covering the region’s political and economic development from the early 1800s onward, the authors provide a background for understanding Central America’s rebellion and regime change of the past forty years. This revised edition brings the Central American story up to date, with special emphasis on globalization, evolving public opinion, progress toward democratic consolidation, and the relationship between Central America and the United States under the Obama administration, and includes analysis of the 2009 Honduran coup d’état. A useful introduction to the region and a model for how to convey its complexities in language readers will comprehend, Understanding Central America stands out as a must-have resource.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Written with detail, sophistication, and great clarity, and key concepts are precisely explained. It is thus both an informed read for scholars and very accessible to students. Highly recommended.” —Choice
“Prior editions of Understanding Central America had become the classic work in the field, both in the classroom and as an academic reference. This new edition is a major upgrade, not only involving updating of events, but rethinking the theoretical issues that are at the heart of any understanding of the region. … Without question, a ‘must read’ for anyone interested in this complex and volatile area of the world.” —Mitchell A. Seligson, Vanderbilt University

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

“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. Pérez, Central Michigan University; President, Midwest Association for Latin American Studies

Praise for Previous Editions

“This is an excellent volume. If you can only read one book on Central America, make it this one.” —John Peeler, Bucknell University

“An outstanding contribution. … This book is among the very best on the subject in the past decade.” —Choice

“An ideal volume that introduces the complexities of the region.” —Mitchell A. Seligson, University of Pittsburgh

“Clearly written, well organized, and challenging. … Laudably, this book speaks both to those who already know the region well and to those seeking an intelligent introduction.” —E. Bradford Burns, University of California, Los Angeles

“This book is required reading as we move into a new, complex era of U.S.–Central American relations.” —Walter LaFeber, Cornell University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813344218
  • Publisher: Westview Press
  • Publication date: 12/22/2009
  • Edition description: Fifth Edition
  • Edition number: 5
  • Pages: 360
  • Sales rank: 1,287,388
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

John A. Booth is Regents Professor of Political Science at the University of North Texas.

Christine J. Wade is Assistant Professor of Political Science and International studies at Washington College.

Thomas W. Walker is professor of political science and Director of the Latin American Studies Program at Ohio University. He is the author of Nicaragua: Living in the Shadow of the Eagle, Fourth Edition (2003, Westview).

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Table of Contents

List of Tables and Illustrations ix

Preface to the Fifth Edition xi

Acknowledgments xiii

List of Acronyms xv

1 Crisis and Transformation 1

2 Global Forces and System Change in Central America 15

Poverty and Its Causes 17

Regime Change in Central America 28

Discussion 42

3 The Common History 47

Conquest to 1838 47

1838 to the Present 51

4 Costa Rica 61

Historical Background 62

Weathering Global Forces 65

The Economic Development Model Transformed 69

Changes in Politics and Parties 72

Contemporary Costa Rican Politics 75

Conclusions 77

5 Nicaragua 81

Historical Background 81

Global Forces and Insurrection 84

The Revolution 88

Replacing the Revolution 97

Contemporary Nicaraguan Politics 102

Conclusions 107

6 El Salvador 111

Historical Background 111

Global Forces and Insurrection 114

Government and Politics Since the Peace Accord 126

Conclusions 133

7 Guatemala 135

Historical Background 135

Global Forces and Conflict 139

The Civilian Transitional Regime and the Civil War 144

The Peace Accords and Contemporary Guatemalan Politics 148

Conclusions 156

8 Honduras 159

Historical Background 159

Weathering Global Forces 163

Contemporary Honduran Politics 171

Conclusions 177

9 Political Participation, Political Attitudes, and Democracy 181

Citizen Participation 182

Citizen Attitudes 191

Factors Shaping Attitudes and Participation 198

Conclusions 205

10 Power, Democracy, and US Policy in Central America 211

The Problem of Power 212

Democracy 213

Mobilization 215

The Roots of US Policy in Central America 219

Communism in Central America 222

Demobilization in Central America 225

US Policy in thePost-Cold War Period 233

Conclusions 239

11 Reflections and Projections 243

Relections: Repression, Mobilization, and Democratic Transition 243

Projections: Prospects for Democratic Consolidation 248

Conclusions 263

Appendix 267

Notes 279

About the Authors 325

Index 327

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