Argentina's Lost Patrol


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Armed Struggle, 1969-1979

María José Moyano

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Argentine guerrillas began fighting against the country's military government in 1969. After four years, in large part because of guerrilla activity, the military decided to call elections and the country returned to constitutional rule. The guerrillas continued their struggle, however, and were partly responsible for the breakdown of democracy in 1976 and the establishment of a highly repressive military regime whose "dirty war" eventually destroyed them. This book is the first comprehensive study in English of Argentina's guerrilla groups—the driving force behind so many political developments in the country over the past twenty-five years.

María José Moyano bases her investigation on an extraordinary collection of personal interviews with guerrillas, political leaders, military leaders, and journalists, as well as extensive readings of sources in four languages. She analyzes not only a decade of some of the bloodiest internal fighting in Argentina's history but also the theoretical underpinnings of violent opposition movements. Moyano argues that after 1973 the guerrilla struggle in Argentina became militarized: due to both internal and external factors, the guerrillas developed a blind adherence to military as opposed to political strategies, lost touch with the political context in which they were operating, and rejected compromise and nonmilitary solutions to conflicts. Moyano's book will be mandatory reading for those interested in the history of this period as well as for students of political violence, terrorism, and repression.

María José Moyano is assistant professor in the department of national security affairs, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California. 

"Impressively detailed and gracefully written, this is a compelling critical evaluation of the militarization of violent opposition movements in Argentina in the 1970s and their growing isolation from the political and social context as armed struggle intensified. It is significant not only as an excellent case study of the groups involved in armed struggle in Argentina but also as a contribution to theories of political violence."—Martha Crenshaw, Wesleyan University

"A careful and objective examination of the Argentine underground Left's transition from a peaceful, well-organized political opposition to one with a strategy of armed force. . . . This work provides a fresh and penetrating view of an understudied element of Argentine politics."—Library Journal

"An outstanding diagnosis of actions and psychology in the violent and bloody guerrilla struggle in 1970s Argentina."—Kenneth Maxwell, Foreign Affairs

"Moyano's critical and thorough study of Argentina's guerrillas provides a broader panorama than earlier works. . . . The book gives a very thorough overview of the history, organization, and development of guerrilla movements, as well as providing significant insights into the guerrillas' behavior. . . . A valuable contribution to literature on guerrilla movements, political violence, and Argentine history."—Deborah L. Norden, American Political Science Review

"This is indisputably the best English-language study of the Argentine guerilla movement and its ten-year cycle, from inception through spectacular growth to thorough demise. . . . An original contribution to the understanding of armed struggle in Argentina and to a theory of comparative political violence as well."—Juan Corradi, American Historical Review

"This book provides probably the most balanced account one will ever see of the wrenching turmoil Argentina experienced during 1969-79. The author has done extensive research in primary sources and conducted interviews with many of the key players that can shed light on the turbulence of that period and beyond. . . . Opinion-makers, decision-makers, and policy-makers would do well to take it most seriously."—Max G. Manwaring, Small Wars and Insurgencies

"This is a well-written, meticulously documented, and clear appraisal of Argentina's guerrillas-the best there is."—Jeremy Adelman, The Historian

ISBN: 9780300191509
Publication Date: September 28, 2012
240 pages, 6 x 9