The Reagan administration spent eight years and a vast amount of money backing the Contras in their bid to overthrow the Sandinista government of Nicaragua. Although the Sandinistas eventually were ousted, it was by the ballot box and not the M-16, for by that time the Contras had ceased to be a viable force. What caused their untimely demise? Some of the fault lies with the Contras themselves, but in this account of villainy, courage, incompetence and violent death in a country at war with itself, the author sets out to show that there is blame in Washington, too. Garvin covered the war for six years, often travelling with Contra combat units, and his work was nominated for Pulitzer Prizes in 1988 and 1989. He won the Mencken Award for Investigative Reporting.