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Blood of Brothers: Life and War in Nicaragua (Latin American Studies)

4.33  ·  Rating Details ·  331 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
This is Stephen Kinzer's dramatic story of the centuries-old power struggle that burst into the headlines in 1979 with the overthrow of the Somoza dictatorship. It is a portrait of the Nicaraguan people and their volcanic land, a cultural history rich in poetry and bloodshed, baseball and insurrection.
Paperback, 460 pages
Published September 1st 2007 by David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (first published 1991)
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Jul 13, 2009 Frank rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've spent three and a half months in Nicaragua over the past two winters studying Spanish, volunteering and travelling. The country is beautiful, the people warm and welcoming. This is a must read for anyone interested in Nicaragua. It tells the story of the overthrow of the Somosa regime realized in the summer of 1978 and of the contra war in the eighties during which the Regan regime funded the contra rebels and did everything short of mounting a full invasion of the country to dislodge the c ...more
Jan 31, 2010 Justin rated it it was amazing
When I was in Nicaragua this book was like Girl Scout cookies in January - everybody wanted it but nobody could find it. It was out of print. You heard rumors about this amazing book. Everybody knew somebody that had read it and raved about it, but nobody knew where to get a copy. When I finally got a copy Fedex'd in from America the book exceeded my wildest expectations.

Shortly after the PriceSmart opened in Managua, some friends and I ran into a reporter for the Wall Street Journal. We didn't
Jan 24, 2013 Carol rated it it was amazing
This is a must read for anyone interested in the gorgeous country of Nicaragua. I lived in Nicaragua for nine months, am dating a "Nica", and have been back for visits three times. It is a beautiful, poor country (it's the poorest country in Latin America) with a laid back atmosphere and warm people. I set out to read about its turbulent history that led it to its present state and this was the perfect find.

Kinzer was the The New York Times bureau chief, reporting on the fall of the Somoza dynas
Jul 24, 2015 Andrew rated it it was amazing
It is the rare book that keeps me up past midnight, frantically turning pages under a reading lamp to see what comes next; it is rarer still that such a book is a nonfiction account rather than the latest Harry Potter installment. I had originally planned to peruse leisurely this book over the next month to gain an overview of the Sandinista era in Nicaragua. Instead, I rapidly devoured it in three days, sneaking peaks during breaks at work, at the dinner table, and upon waking up in the morning ...more
Jul 14, 2015 John rated it really liked it
For most of the 1980s bloody wars were being fought in three Central American countries, all of them involving the United States. In El Salvador and Guatemala, guerrilla armies were attempting to overthrow right-wing dictatorships - the dictatorships, supported by the US, had ruled those countries for decades. In Nicaragua, the reverse was happening: the US was supporting rebel armies that were trying to overthrow the revolutionary Sandinista government, that in 1984 actually became an elected g ...more
William G Roth
Aug 07, 2016 William G Roth rated it it was amazing
The book is a fascinating look at the history of the Nicaraguan Contra/Civil war, told from the vantage point of a New York Times reporter , Stephen Kinzer. WHile he makes short shrift of the history leading up to the 1970's, the detailed reportage in engaging. There are a number of quite dramatic passages, as when he first discovers the US-Funded Contras over the border in Honduras, something the US government gad been denying at length in the media.

I came away from this book without an underst
Nathan Titus
Feb 20, 2014 Nathan Titus rated it liked it
Shelves: the-world
I have no specific complaints about this book. It didnt portray the sandanistas as white wearing western good guys the way I feared it would. In fact it didnt show any polititcian in a very positive light. Kinzer is a fair, unbiased journalist throughout. All the same, I didnt get much out of this book either.
A year ago, I told a freind that I was headed to nicaragua, that Id never been to central america, and that I wanted to know all I could. She insisted that I read this book. I bought it, bu
Mar 02, 2011 pdxmaven rated it liked it
Recommended to pdxmaven by: G. Robboy
Started reading this in preparation for upcoming (and now postponed til fall) trip to Nicaragua. The perspective of the author as a newspaper correspondent (first for the Boston Globe and then for the NY Times) from 1976 to 1988, you get not only a picture of what the unfolding of events in Nicaragua during those crucial years, but also a sense of what it meant to be a journalist in the midst of those times.

Kinzer describes being captivated early on by a book about Nicaragua written in 1860 (!)
Sep 19, 2009 Steven rated it it was amazing
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 enter
Oct 20, 2013 Ollie rated it really liked it
[The polls] show that all of the opposition parties in Nicaragua combined had the support of only 9 percent of the population, but they have 100 percent of Stephen Kinzer.
—Noam Chomsky

Knowing this, that Kinzer doesn't exactly have Chomsky seal of approval as a fair and unbiased correspondent, how does one read Blood of Brothers? Not that every book must be Chomsky approved to be fair and thorough, but this isn't the only instance where the Times' coverage of foreign affairs -- and Central Americ
Jun 06, 2010 Tim rated it it was amazing
Blood of Brothers is a fascinating and highly readable history of Nicaragua written by the former New York Times bureau chief in Managua. Kinzer was a first-hand witness to much of Nicaragua's turbulent '80s -- from the last days of the Somoza dictatorship through the Sandinista revolution, civil war with the U.S.-backed contras and the eventual ceasefire. Online consensus seems to be that this is the place to start if you're interested in learning about the country, but I would recommend it to ...more
Peter Pecksen
Oct 18, 2014 Peter Pecksen rated it it was amazing
An excellent read, made all the more poignant by living in the country for the last three months. Kinzer convoys an honest love for the country of Nicaragua, the good, bad, and the ugly. I felt his writing was as balanced as anyone could provide considering the dynamic times he is writing about. The human side of the conflict which ripped the country apart in the 80's is depressing but it is refreshing to see that side of the conflict highlighted instead of the usual political crap that the main ...more
Dec 09, 2015 Sophie rated it it was amazing
Excellent read! I'm headed to Nicaragua myself in January, and this provided a perfect base to my understanding of the culture when I arrive. Kinzer covered a range of topics, from the revolution to civilian lifestyle and more. I wish there were other books like this but specific to certain areas so I could delve into the details of each region, but nonetheless a great book.
Jul 13, 2014 Lorena rated it liked it
Shelves: nicaragua
Kinzer's book, compared to others on the subject, is more of a general interest, magazine-audience kind of thing. It's a good overview, and a good place to start for a novice on the subject, but I didn't come away with anything more than general review, a kind of "lay of the land" function. The blood and guts of the story (literally and figuratively) can be found elsewhere, in books like Leslie Cockburn's "Out of Control: The Story of the Reagan Administration's Secret War in Nicaragua, the Ille ...more
Fred Rose
Jul 24, 2016 Fred Rose rated it really liked it
Read this to prepare for a course on Nicaragua. Very disappointing to see how the US manipulated the situation there during the Reagan era and caused a conflict to be much longer and bloodier than it should have been. Good journalistic view of the situation, fairly balanced.
Diane Ramirez
Jul 17, 2009 Diane Ramirez rated it really liked it
Written by a New York Times journalist living in Nicaragua during the Sandinista revolution and Contra war, Blood of Brothers is a great introduction to the political history of the country and how it developed into a heartbreaking, years-long battle amongst brothers, loved ones, neighbors. The US repeatedly plays the villain in this story -- not always, but far too often. I learned quite a lot reading this book, but even the most careful, diligent reader will have a hard time following the flui ...more
Feb 10, 2010 Kiesha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I am going to back up the platonic life mate on this one with the five star rating.

This book is what got me into non-fiction/investigative writing/research as a genre. This was one of the "required" reading books on Nicaragua when we were in the Peace Corps, only it was uber difficult to find a copy. It was worth the wait - probably one of the best books on Central American history and Nicaragua, ever. Kinzer automatically rushed to my list of must-read authors after the first chaper - if he wr
Michael Griswold
Jul 30, 2013 Michael Griswold rated it really liked it
Stephen Kinzer writes an engaging although sad and depressing narrative about Nicaragua during the U.S. backed Somoza dictatorship and the eleven year period of Sandinista rule (1979-1990. Drawing on interviews with government officials and local residents Kinzer paints a picture of a country in an unsettled state of war. Nicaraguans buried a whole generation of their young fighting to first remove the Somoza dictatorship from power and then a second civil war between the Sandinistas and the Con ...more
Jul 04, 2007 Erin rated it it was amazing
A really comprehensive history about Nicaragua during the war and how it affected its citizens. Its too bad that there are so few books out there about the history of such a country. And the author boldly stuck himself right in Nicaragua's history as it was being made, giving his book a comprehensive and rich feel. This guy couldn't do anymore except pick up a rifle and join the Sandanistas. Now THAT would have made for an interesting story.

Obviously, required reading for any Nicaraguan PCVs. Go
Raphael Fu
Oct 09, 2015 Raphael Fu rated it it was amazing
A gem.
Shellie G
Sep 01, 2014 Shellie G rated it liked it
Krista Gustafson
Dec 10, 2015 Krista Gustafson rated it it was amazing
Too much to say, too little time. This was a fabulous, informative read that kept me awake into the wee hours. Read on the heels of The Country Under My Skin: A Memoir of Love and War after spending 10 days in Nicaragua (far too few).
Susan Howse
May 28, 2016 Susan Howse rated it it was amazing
I picked it up to learn more about the history of Nicaragua, the revolution and subsequent counter revolution and I definitely got that out of it! It was rather long but I really enjoyed the authors narrative style and it wasn't dry or boring. Wish it continued more into the 90s and how Nicaragua is doing now though.
I've spent about six weeks in Nicaragua over the past 18 months, and I wish I'd read this book before I went for the first time. Or, maybe it wouldn't have been as meaningful then. But, definitely a great read for someone interested in contemporary Nicaraguan history.
Cody Cummings
Jul 25, 2016 Cody Cummings rated it really liked it
This is the best book I've found on the history of Nicaragua. It is also an excellent glimpse into the tumultuous political past of all of Central America. While it was dense and took some work to get through, it was worth the time. Well done, Mr. Kinzer.
Abigail Sterns
An excellent telling of the contemporary history of Nicaragua. The personal angle from which it is told adds to the narrative intrigue, but the book maintains a fact-based approach that I very much enjoyed.
Paul Cumbo
Sep 07, 2013 Paul Cumbo rated it it was amazing
This is a remarkably (and surprisingly) clear cultural history of Nicaragua. Kinzer, an accomplished journalist, manages to tackle a complex and densely populated history with the clarity and fluidity of a well-written newspaper feature.
Aug 07, 2016 Kirsten rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pc-prep
This book is a must-read for anyone interested in Nicaraguan history. Very well-written and detailed not only about historical events but day-to-day life during the contra war. Reads easily, very engrossing. Highly recommended!
Apr 27, 2009 Allyn rated it really liked it
Fascinating so far. I am reading this after visiting Nicaragua, and am more and more fascinated with how the war effected every person in the country differently, and this book reports on why that has happened thoroughly.
Sep 06, 2009 Christopher rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
Written by the bureau chief of the NY Times during the 1980's, this book is an extensive, personal, journalistic account of the Sandanista Revolution. A must-read for anyone interested in the politics of Central America.
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Stephen Kinzer is an award-winning foreign correspondent who has covered more than 50 countries on five continents. His articles and books have led the Washington Post to place him "among the best in popular foreign policy storytelling." (source)
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