This is a translation and abridgment of the two-volume 1984 edition of El pensamiento vivo de Sandino compiled by Sergio Ramírez. Robert Edgar Conrad presents English-language versions of 201 documents either originally issued under the signature of Augusto C. Sandino or, in a few cases, by journalists or others who spoke with him. Many of the documents from the Ramírez collection are shortened by Conrad, and 74 are deleted. Conrad adds 8 documents: 1 letter by Sandino published in the New York Times and 7 selections from eyewitness sources. The editor-translator retains some of Ramírez’s explanatory footnotes, adds many of his own, and contributes an introductory essay.

Conrad doubts that Sandino was much influenced by the anarchosyndicalism of Mexico’s Ricardo Flores Magón, and he downplays the general’s ties to Joaquín Trincado’s Magnetic-Spiritual School of the Universal Commune based in Argentina. Whatever the general’s motivating philosophy and ultimate goals—weird ideas abound in the documents Conrad transcribes—it was not Sandino’s thought but the heroic example of his patriotic struggle against Yankee imperialism that significantly influenced developments in Nicaragua and Latin America and forms the vital core of Sandinismo today. Just as the recent Sandinista rulers of Nicaragua jettisoned their hero’s theosophy and anarchocommunism, the next Sandinista government—if there is to be one—will surely discard liberation theology and Marxism-Leninism. Conrad is correct to emphasize the enduring, nonideological aspects of the patriot-general’s testimony.

Conrad’s translation of these personal and official letters, political manifestos, military communiqués, and interviews is smooth and generally excellent, skillfully conveying the flavor of the author’s prose, at once hyperbolic and shrewd. One of Conrad’s few missteps is in translating compadre as “godfather” (p. 332), giving a wrong impression of the relationship between Sandino and Pedro José Zepeda. Also, the photograph captioned “Augusto C. Sandino in 1926 or 1927, During the Constitutionalist War” (following p. 392) is not of Sandino. A more serious problem concerns the documents in the Ramírez collection that Conrad deletes. At least one of these, the “Manifiesto a los capitalistas" of November 15, 1930, should have been retained. In it Sandino sanctions “los cortes de chaleco, de cumbo y blumers.” However unpleasant it may be to explain these terms of torture and mutilation, the editor-translator should not deny his English-language readers what is common knowledge among Central Americans: that in their wars atrocities are committed on both sides.