This book recounts the history of the last half century in Colombia, focusing on the violent contention between the Colombian state, Marxist-inspired guerrillas, and right-wing paramilitary forces. Author Marco Palacios, a Colombian historian now based at the Colegio de México, is at pains to place his account against the background of US Cold War and terrorist concerns as well as the dynamics of the illegal drug trade, both of which color every aspect of the events he chronicles.

Most of the information in the book is not new, drawn as it is from Colombia's major newspapers and news magazines as well as reading in an increasingly rich and sophisticated secondary literature on the period. Palacios is content, as he puts it, to “revise, correct, amplify, and restate” information and interpretations previously advanced in his own work and that of others (p. 20)....

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