New Book – A Call to Conscience: The Anti-Contra War Campaign

A new book documenting the history of the grassroots movement to halt American intervention in Nicaragua, including interviews with the Friendship Offices’ Rita Clark and Tom Loudon, has just been released by University of Massachusetts Press. — A Call to Conscience: The Anti-Contra War Campaign by Roger Peace.

Unlike earlier U.S. interventions in Latin America, the Reagan administration’s attempt to overthrow the Sandinista government of Nicaragua during the 1980s was not allowed to proceed quietly. Tens of thousands of American citizens organized and agitated against U.S. aid to the counterrevolutionary guerrillas, known as “contras.” Believing the Contra War to be unnecessary, immoral, and illegal, they challenged the administration’s Cold War stereotypes, warned of “another Vietnam,” and called on the United States to abide by international norms.

A Call to Conscience offers the first comprehensive history of the anti–Contra War campaign and its Nicaragua connections. Roger Peace places this eight-year campaign in the context of previous American interventions in Latin America, the Cold War, and other grassroots oppositional movements. Based on interviews with American and Nicaraguan citizens and leaders, archival records of activist organizations, and official government documents, this book reveals activist motivations, analyzes the organizational dynamics of the anti–Contra War campaign, and contrasts perceptions of the campaign in Managua and Washington.

Peace shows how a variety of civic groups and networks—religious, leftist, peace, veteran, labor, women’s rights—worked together in a decentralized campaign that involved extensive transnational cooperation.

“A ground-breaking book. If a hundred years from now the anti–Contra War movement is included on the list of significant American protest movements, there is no question this book will be a major reason why. It clarifies our vision of the 1980s, refutes the dominant Reagan triumphalism, and shows contemporary America to be just as fraught with protest as the 1960s.”—Andrew E. Hunt, author of The Turning: A History of Vietnam Veterans Against the War

Roger Peace is adjunct professor of history at Tallahassee Community College.

$28.95, paper, 302 pages, 1 map, ISBN 978-1-55849-932-4

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