Allston journalist makes it in Managua with new book By Beverly
Journal, Boston, MA
in Managua, Allston native Lawrence J. Maushards
new book, is a ramblin Jack Elliot account of a cocky
young journalists visit to Managua to witness the results
of the Arias peace proposal.
free man in a leftist state o mind reminds
us that people are people no matter where you go: some are
courageous, some vile. Maushards adventures make for
edge of the seat reading. Once I started I couldnt put
the book down.
Americans havent a clue about Central America. Until
president Reagan declared himself a Contra no
one knew what side we were supporting. Even then people didnt
remember or care. Maushards adventures make great
copy and good history.
has the luxury as an independent journalist of going anywhere
he wants to go. Judging from his first book of political observations,
he leads a charmed life, entrusting his car to a family in
Mexico in one episode and finding it, remarkably, waiting
for him on his way back to Boston. Maushard says he tried
to make the book both informational and entertaining
no one wants to read dry politics.
is a throwback to the days when a Hemingway would set out
in search of a war. Since publication of Maushards book,
hes traveled to Egypt, aiming specifically for the Gaza
Strip because you hear lots of stories coming out of
the West Bank but nothing from the Gaza Strip. He was
stopped cold at the border by Israeli guards and eventually
ended up in Cairo but thats another book.
to popular press reports, Maushard says most Egyptians didnt
care about Operation Desert Storm. Theyre more
worried about day-to-day living than any political fallout
in Egypt faces a struggle: professors, professionals and the
people living in the street. It shakes you up to see women
and children begging and living on the sidewalk.
is one journalist who makes no pretense of so-called journalistic
objectivity. He says he goes where he cares about
a situation. He tries to give both sides but has no
problem letting his bias show. Not that he cant
change his mind. Ill adjust my thinking,
he says, if he finds a different light on a subject.
being there and reporting on it is interacting, Maushard
says. And interacting is affecting the story. (The reporter)
is part of the story because hes involved. Maushard
proudly asserts that hell let his heart hang out
on his sleeve. This is one journalist who cares. Youre
under an obligation to help even if youre reporting.
You have to have your humanity first.
Americans want to get a feel for the people and the politics
of Central America, unfiltered through the evening news, Made
in Managua is the book to read. (August 1991)
Experiences Nicaragua After Dark: Irreverent Account of Shell-Shocked
Society By P. Gregory Maravilla
The Harvard Crimson
can Americans fathom what goes on outside the United States.
Maybe the widespread poverty and violence in American cities
approximate the conditions of poor, war-torn Third World countries,
but the conflict we see at home will always be the conflict
of a rich society.
American journalists make the occasional sojourn into the
world beyond our borders, they are usually insulated from
harm and produce relatively mild accounts of their trips.
One such trek has given Lawrence J. Maushard the material
for his new book, Made in Managua.
through the eyes of a liberal white American, Made in Managua
is a memoir of Maushards nonchalant exploration of Nicaragua
at the end of its civil war. The book does not attempt to
relate the experiences of the war-torn citizens of Managua,
but Maushard does succeed within his limited scope
he gives a superb fresh-out-of-college journalists depiction
of his jaunt through North Americas most bitter war
embarks from Boston in his beast, a dilapidated
car that takes him to southern Mexico. His $900 already wearing
thin, Maushard makes a valuable friendship with a Nicaraguan
franchise operator, Donald, who helps him to the Nicaraguan
border. The acquaintance really pays off when this wealthy
merchant provides Maushard with the food, shelter and information
he needs to survive in Nicaraguas capital city.
author plays the whole journey by ear; he frequently does
not know where he will stay or where his next meal will come
from. This lackadaisical attitude drowns out any political
insights that Maushard might have gleaned from the trip. Instead,
he dwells on satisfying his primal urges for women and devotes
considerable effort to describing each one he encounters.
he is not smoking pot, drinking and getting laid,
Maushard manages to scratch the surface of a Nicaraguan culture
scarred by civil war. The people he encounters and the protests
he witnesses produce an unsettling ambiguity about who is
the hero and who the villain in the jumble of Nicaraguan society.
originally set out for Central America as a freelance journalist
to cover the announcement of the Arias Peace Plan in Managua.
While this pedestrian premise may disappoint Hemingway idealists
and leave Michener mavericks unsatisfied, the book gives a
surprisingly novel and realistic perspective of Nicaragua
albeit from the viewpoint of a privileged, aging hippie.
triumphs for precisely this reason: he makes no pretense of
providing a masterpiece of literature. He recounts an adventure,
a personal involvement.
in Managua offers a simple, contemporary account of a
single Americans brief encounter with the tumult of
Central American politics. Maushard effectively provides us
with an unpolished, but rewarding portrait of Nicaragua. Although
his brief account is not particularly insightful, it paints
a memorable picture of something most Americans will never
there: Peoria native
has an adventure in Contraland
By Bryan Oberle
The Journal Star
New York Times reporter Harrison Salisburys extraordinary
visit to Hanoi during the Vietnam War, to Hunter S. Thompsons
hilarious and insightful tales of the 1972 presidential campaign,
first-person journalistic accounts have a long and rich history
in American literature.
in Managua, a paperback book by Peoria native Lawrence
J. Maushard about a trip to Nicaragua during the Contra war,
is a limited but somewhat successful attempt at this sort
31, a graduate of the Academy of Our Lady/Spalding Institute
and Illinois State University, has written a frank book.
candidly says that his reasons for going to Nicaragua were
job misfortune and boredom. After starting his journalistic
career at the Pana-News Palladium, Maushard lost his job at
the Pekin Daily Times when a drunken-driving charge cost him
journalism career needed some hard fix in a bad way,
Maushard writes. Plus, I figured if James Wood (in the
film Salvador) could drive to and return from that Salvadoran
hellhole, I could make out at least as well in lukewarm Nicaragua.
Lets face it, the Sandinistas got all the street fighting
done years ago.
October 198(7), Maushard left a warehouse job in Boston and
set out for Nicaragua in his 1975 Nova with $900.
primary aim was to be on hand when the Sandinistas made a
formal response to Costa Rican President Oscar Arias
peace accords, the first step toward ending the Reagan administrations
war by proxy with Nicaraguas leftist government.
goals were few. Traveling as a freelance writer, he wanted
to see how the Nicaraguans actually felt about the peace process,
the Contra war and Americans.
his credit, Maushard doesnt feign objectivity. He believes
the Contras were a creation of the Central Intelligence Agency,
and the United States backing of this dirty little war
was at best disgraceful. While no friend of the Sandinistas,
Maushard seems willing to give the slayers of the brutal Somoza
dictatorship the benefit of the doubt.
reporting serves up little tidbits of information. Most Managuans
whom Maushard talked to disliked the Sandinistas (no surprise
considering elections in 1990 swept them out of power), were
suspicious of the Contras and distrusted U.S. motives in Central
book contains some interesting sketches of individual Nicaraguans.
In Managua, Maushard stays with a well-heeled gas station
owner named Donald, who adds color to the book. Maushard handles
with skill a chapter about meeting the publisher of Managuas
spunky independent paper, La Prensa.
didnt let reporting get in the way of his fun. The best
sections of the 162-page paperback concern Maushards
adventures with suspect food, a continuing search for female
companionship, his thirst for beer and longings for a marijuana
prose is simple but quite adequate. He is clearly comfortable
with the written word and refrains from overwriting, a crime
common to this kind of book.
terms of history and politics, Maushards book is by
no means complete. If you are looking for a comprehensive,
historically significant first-person work on the lines of
William Shirers Berlin Diary, Maushards
book isnt it.
if an amusing and informative first-person travel piece in
the mode of P.J. ORourkes Rolling Stone stories
appeals to you, Made in Managua is worth your time.
(February 14, 1991)
illustration by Tim Gallivan.