El Salvador

Volume 1 - Crisis, Coup and Uprising, 1970-1983

David Francois

Erupting in the aftermath of a military coup and the mass-killings of anti-coup protesters in October 1979, the civil war in El Salvador was fought between the military-led junta government and the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front - an umbrella organization of predominantly left-wing groups.
Date Published :
December 2022
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
Latin America@War
Illustration :
80 photos, 6 maps, 21 artworks
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781804510308
Pages : 88
Dimensions : 11.75 X 8.25 inches
Stock Status : Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-Order


A severe social and political crisis in El Salvador during the 1970s resulted in widespread disruption to daily life. In October 1979, a coup d’état brought a military junta to power: the new government launched a campaign of violent suppression of the opposition, deploying so-called ‘death squads’ to liquidate numerous prominent politicians, religious figures and activists.

The repression backfired: although the military resources of the rebels were extremely limited, they enjoyed widespread support of labor unions, student- and peasant organizations, and were able to mobilize thousands. They not only shut down the government through strikes but organized the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMNL) and launched an armed insurrection against the government in early 1981.

Within months, the FMLN established itself in control over two departments – which it was to retain for the rest of the war; it launched high-profile hit-and-run attacks on numerous military targets throughout the country, leaving hundreds dead. The junta reacted by stepping up the repression – with the support of the United States, Chile and Argentina – and introduced not only martial law, but publicly declared the application of a ‘scorched earth’ strategy – through the eradication of the guerrilla’s support base in the countryside.

Although bombardments, strafing, shelling, summary execution of anybody captured, and massacres of civilians became the norm of the day, the FMLN continued growing in strength, and by 1983 reached the peak of its power and control over the countryside.

El Salvador, Volume 1: Crisis, Coup and Uprising, 1970-1983 – is the first inclusive and incisive military history of this incredibly vicious, merciless war: one of two major conflicts fought in Central America during the 1980s within the context of the Cold War. Based on official documentation and carefully cross-referenced secondary sources, it is lavishly illustrated with original photographs and custom-drawn color profiles and is an indispensable single-point source of reference.

About The Author

David Francois, from France, earned his PhD in Contemporary History at the University of Burgundy and specialised in studying militant communism, its military history and relationship between politics and violence in contemporary history. In 2009, he co-authored the Guide des archives de l’Internationale communiste published by the French National Archives and the Maison des sciences de l’Homme in Dijon. He is regularly contributing articles for various French military history magazines and regular contributor to the French history website L’autre côté de la colline.

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