El Salvador Could Be Like That
A Memoir of War, Politics and Journalism by Joe Frazier
About
Joe Frazier, a longtime veteran of The Associated Press, covered the bloody civil war in El Salvador in the early 1980s. The conflict between the rightist U.S.-backed government forces and the revolutionary guerrillas represented the last gasp of the U.S.-Soviet cold war and affected every level of Salvadoran society. A starkly divided country where a few wealthy landowners controlled the majority of the capital, El Salvador was ripe for revolution in the late 1970s. Many people were living without basic necessities, and many were living in fear. Once the United Stated threw its support behind the conservative government, funding its operations, training soldiers, and equipping the military with weapons, a full-blown war erupted. Despite reports of human-rights abuses, Congress kept the money flowing for fear of a takeover by the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), an umbrella organization of left-wing guerrilla groups. After 12 grueling years of conflict, a leftist government is currently in place.
 
Deeply sympathetic to the ordinary people—of all political leanings—who suffered the most, Frazier exposes the daily horrors and injustices of this long, brutal war: death squads, disappearances, stolen children, food shortages, displacement, constant intimidation. Frazier calls upon his vast trove of articles written from the frontlines, interspersing the reporting of facts with personal stories—some funny, some tragic—and political commentary.
 
Frazier has made several trips to El Salvador in the years since the war ended, and he explores some of the social factors—particularly the scourge of gang violence—that are currently affecting the country.
 
Both broad in its sweep and intense in its focus on the daily lives of the war's victims, Frazier's book is an important contribution to the scholarship on this mostly forgotten conflict. He explores the war and the factors that contributed to it in the hopes that such horrors will not be repeated. 

Selections from images in the book (from top). Photographers: Murray Sil, Unknown, Pat Hamilton.