ness executives. Liebes had told me thatnhe had set aside $1-million in case he wasnkidnapped. He appeared to be not overlynfrightened by the prospect. He was overn70, not in good health and, although hisnfamily was living abroad, he said: “Thisnis the country where I arrived as a youngnman, where I succeeded in business, andnwhere I made my home. I’m not going tondesert it now.” As it turned out, Liebesnhad underestimated the appetites ofnpotential kidnappers; they demanded anflO-million ransom. Not every well-todonbusinessman has this much money,nand still fewer have it readily available.nThere were negotiations; Liebes tried tonconvince the leader of the group that henwas an independent businessman withoutncorporate backing. He had the booksnof his firm delivered so that his captorsncould check the state of his finances. Innthe midst of this bargaining he suddenlynsuffered a mild heart attack. The terroristsnpanicked. Fearing that he would dienbefore they could collect any ransom,nthey executed him. Cruelty? No, coldnbusiness acumen. They had, at the time,nfour other business executives in captivity.nBy killing Liebes, who had presentedna problem in achieving their ransomndemands, they sent a warning to thosenwho negotiated on behalf of the othernfour.nThis was my first encounter, thoughnby proxy, with the Salvadoran terroristsnwho currently battle the government ofnthat Central American nation. It did notnendear them to me. I must confess to anbias. I cannot sympathize with them, nornvrith all those liberals and leftists in thisncountry, or abroad, who root for theirnvictory. Whenever I hear the Salvadoranngovernment accused of violations ofnhuman rights, or of tolerating such violations,nI can’t help thinking that assassinsnof the left get more lenient treatment bynthe world’s liberal establishment thannassassins of the right.nJbrank Devine retired in 1980, and inn1981 published a memoir of his days innthat embattled country. El Salvador:nEmbassy Under Attack. He was stationedn12 inChronicles of Culturentherefrom 1977 to 1980, a period duringnwhich El Salvador was beginning to degenerateninto Latin America’s top troublenspot. Those were the years of kidnappingsnfor ransom, seizures of publicnbuildings and churches by leftist mobs,noccupations of foreign embassies (20 outnof the country’s 28), and killings ofnselected individuals, mostly by leftist terrorists.nGovernment repression was, innthe spirit of that nation’s history, “heavynhanded,” as Devine calls it, and causedntrouble with human-rights groups andnlegislators in the United States. DuringnDevine’s stay, one government was overthrownnin a bloodless coup, one revolutionaryngoverning junta that emergednwas replaced by another, land reform wasnstarted and numerous well-meaning attemptsnto solve the brewing crisis failed.nDevine doesn’t claim to have all thenanswers or any answers at all. He quotes anChilean diplomat: “El Salvador is besetnwith problems—and they are all insoluble.n” Devine just points out the facts: it’sna country the size of Massachusetts withnover 5 million inhabitants, whose wealthnis concentrated in a few hands (thoughnnot precisely in the so-called fourteennfamilies), but which also had developedna middle class. The wealthy, many ofnwhom had expattiated out of fear of kidnapping,nwere understandably unwillingnto part with their wealth, and the leftistnterrorists, or guerrillas, were equallynuninterested in reform: they wanted revolution.nEl Salvador has wimessed a continuousncoming and going of Americannfactfinders and troubleshooters, andnmany well-intentioned projects doomednfrom inception because neither the rightnnor the left want a compromise solution:nthey want victory—the destmction of thennnopponent. Devine presents many detailsnwhich illustrate this situation, but toutncomprendre c’est tout pardoner ]istndoesn’t apply here. El Salvador is nonplace to collect laurels, whatever one’snmission, and no position or title is a safeconduct:nan archbishop is gunned downnat the altar, priests and nuns are murdered,nambassadors are kidnapped andnkilled. No holds are barred in this nationngone berserk, where there are innocentsnbut no knights in shining armor. Onlynthe coffin carpenters would prosper, ifnthe assassins cared about the burial ofntheir victims. Meanwhile, the UnitednStates tries to support a political centernwhich no longer exists.nFrank Devine is an accomplished foreign-servicenman. While he undoubtedlynhas preferences, they hardly shownthrough. If foreign-news correspondentsnwere to report with equal impartiality,nthe public would be better informed.nNor is he one to excoriate his superiors.nThe reader may determine that Devinenwas not always exhilarated about instmctionsnthat were aimed at satisfying thenhuman-rights lobby, but nowhere doesnhe directly say so. ITie whole book is lownkey, which is all the more remarkablensince it deals with so inflamatory a topic.nDevine tells the story of diplomats whonserve their country in danger spots, andneven one who is destined for a peacefulncountry is now not immune to a aackpot’snbullet. Diplomacy has ceased to benchampagne and caviar. It’s a demandingnprofession, one of the most dangerousnaround, and Devine had the distinctionnof being called in a major Americannnewspaper “the most heavily guardednAmerican Ambassador” of the time.nPrior to being named Ambassador to ElnSalvador, the expert in Latin affairs wasnacting deputy assistant Secretary of State.nThe ambassadorship was supposed to benthe crowning achievement of his career.nWhen Devine returned from hisnfinal briefing before departing for ElnSalvador, he received a message to returnnimmediately to the State Department.nThere he was met by representatives ofn