El Salvador is perhaps best known for a 1932 rural uprising that led to a bloody massacre of more than 10,000 Indigenous peoples, and a protracted 1980–92 civil war that ultimately failed to bring the leftist FMLN to power through armed struggle. Scholars have produced a fairly robust literature on both episodes, but until now have paid little attention to the 50 years that separated the two events. Yet, they have always known that the 1980s guerrilla insurgency did not emerge out of a vacuum but was an expression of a highly organized, mobilized, and conscientious population. Chávez (history, Univ. of Illinois at Chicago) performs an important task in filling that gap in the literature. Employing Gramsci’s notions of peasant intellectuals, he traces the ideas of democracy and revolution that rural and urban activists articulated during the 1960s and 1970s. The author provides a model for understanding the intersection of “old” and “new” Lefts in building a powerful revolutionary movement that scholars elsewhere will want to emulate. This is a key work for understanding the origins and evolution of one of Latin America’s best-organized social movements.
Summing Up: Essential. All levels/libraries.