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Ringside Seat to a Revolution: An Underground Cultural History of El Paso and Juarez, 1893-1923 First Edition Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0938317913
ISBN-10: 0938317911
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Romo submits that his book is about what he calls an offbeat collection of individuals who were in El Paso and Juarez during the Mexican Revolution, "one of the most fascinating periods in the region's history." The author, who was raised in El Paso and Juarez, chronicles the point of view of those people whom official histories have considered peripheral to the main events--military band musicians who played Verdi operas during executions, filmmakers who came to the border to make silent movies, female bullfighters, anarchists, poets, spies with Graflex cameras, pool hustlers reborn as postcard salesmen, illegal Chinese aliens, radical feminists, and smugglers. More than 200 archival black-and-white photographs enhance Romo's lively text. They show spectators watching the Battle of Juarez from trains, women drinking from huge glasses at a Juarez bar, a bull killing a matador, a jazz band at an El Paso cafe, and executions. The book sheds new light on a fascinating era. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review


"David Romo’s Ringside Seat to a Revolution is a fascinating glimpse into unknown scenes of the Mexican Revolution of 1911. He takes us into El Paso and Juárez—facing one another across the Rio Grande—in the years just before and just after the exciting events of the revolution itself. It is close up and personal history-through the eyes of an extraordinary cast of characters. It is 'people’s history' at its best." —Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States

"David Romo’s micro-history is brilliant. Here you’ll find what official history seems to ignore: the salt of the earth, the surprising anecdote, rumors, the absurd. The odd relationship between El Paso and Mexico makes this book all the more fascinating." —Paco Ignacio Taibo II, author of Guevara Also Known As Che and The Uncomfortable Dead

"More than 200 archival black-and-white photographs enhance Romo's lively text. They show spectators watching the Battle of Juarez from trains, women drinking from huge glasses at a Juarez bar, a bull killing a matador, a jazz band at an El Paso cafe, and executions. The book sheds new light on a fascinating era." —Booklist

"In a city whose popular history has been portrayed…as one inhabited only by gunfighters and conquistadores, it is a breath of fresh air to read about the profound cultural and social influence of the Mexican Revolution and Mexican-origin people." —El Paso Times quote from Yolanda Leyva, a University of Texas at El Paso history professor

"David Dorado Romo’s Ringside Seat to a Revolution isn’t really about Villa. It’s a different kind of book, perhaps unique…This is an extraordinary book. For those who love the tangled history of Texas and Mexico and their tragic border, it’s a treasure." —Dallas Morning News

"Romo could not get away from his hometown, and we should be grateful. He has collected a fine, fat book with more than 200 photographs and dozens of tidbits from El Paso-Juárez history." —RALPH: The Review of Arts, Literature, Philosophy, and the Humanities

"A project inspired by the anarchic avant-garde 'mappings' of the Situationist International, Ringside Seat to a Revolution is a cultural and historical exploration of two geographical sites: cities on either side of the Rio Grande and either side of the Mexico-U.S. border. Beautifully written and illustrated, this alternative history is a treat for readers." —Southern California Quarterly

"Most people know that to really uncover a city, one must find the places where the locals hang out and dig up the legends and tales that make each city what it is. David Dorado Romo has done just that with the West Texas city of El Paso.…Romo’s book reads like its own shooting star for all those interested in this fascinating time period." —The Monitor

"Ringside Seat to a Revolution is a must-read not just for those interested in the history of a war, but for those interested in the history of two nations and the Mexican American culture." —San Antonio Express-News

"Every chapter is illustrated with wonderful photographs and is permeated with Romo’s finely-honed sense of the absurd.…He is research fanatic, and he spent five years plowing through archives scattered from the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles to the Smithsonian in Washington to write Ringside Seat to a Revolution." —Big Bend Sentinel

"Overall, Romo seems to have touched the revolution locally in all its various and relevant aspects…This is as fine a local primer on the early Mexican Revolution as we will likely ever read." —El Paso Times, Leon Metz

"Ringside Seat to a Revolution is a treat, a history book that is funny, beautifully illustrated, well-written and deadly serious. It's a highly dangerous book--the kind you might read and actually learn something from." —Tucson Weekly

"Romo’s book is fascinating reading for any denizen of the El Paso/Juarez region. His riveting narrative will keep you glued to your seats." —El Paso Inside & Out Magazine

"Drawing on contemporary eye witness accounts and archival records, David Dorado Romo, the son of Mexican immigrants, documents this pivotal period of Mexican-American history with a fresh prospective.… Romo, who is both an essayist and historian, is to be commended for this excellent work. It is highly recommended." —Tucson Citizen

"Romo weaves together biographical, historical, and at-first-glance inconsequential facts, from the comical to the tragic, to convey a heady cultural and political intensity among the Mexican population along the border at the time…and shatters stereotypes along the way. The big, soft-cover book also has a jazzy graphic design and brims with compelling photographs." —Taos Daily Horse Fly

"Books, articles and columns about the Mexican Revolution have floated around for decades. But this is one is different from anything we’ve ever read!" —El Paso Inc.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 293 pages
  • Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press; First Edition edition (July 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0938317911
  • ISBN-13: 978-0938317913
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.7 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #789,752 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
If you like micro-history, you'll enjoy this book. Rather than dealing with the big events of the day, Romo tells his stories with the details of the day.... details that, put together, make a much larger story. The book is a series of readable essays that are fascinating to those who have an interest in immigration, Pancho Villa, the border and the Mexican Revolution. The pictures alone are worth the price of the book! I recommend it to all students of American and Mexican history.
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Format: Paperback
A first rate book, with an excellent collection of photographs. See/listen to John Burnett's NPR radio materials on the David Dorado Romo book, aired Sat., Jan. 28, 2006. NPR web page: [...]
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Format: Paperback
This book is one of the few scholarly page-turners. It covers the topic in a local-history approach. The use of many, well-chosen photographs, keeps the readers interest. The author's "hook" of viewing the Mexican Revolution from a distance in El Paso is both novel, and effective.
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Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful book mapping out the historical significance of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez in the Mexican revolution. As a long life citizen of El Paso, Texas I was ashamed to find out I knew relatively nothing about my city's contribution to the Mexican revolution. This is a must read for all historical buffs, Hispanics and El Pasoan's yearning to learn the real story behind the importance of two border cities. Great reading, full of rich details, stories and histories of amazing people kept out of American history books.
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Format: Paperback
This is one of the very best books that I've ever read about the El Paso/Juarez border. It is a must-own reference book, packed full of photos, quotes, articles (from the El Paso Herald and El Paso Times), and other rare items from the archival collections of UTEP and the Times.

Romo (the author) goes beyond what a normal historian would comment upon - he takes you on an archeological "dig" of facts and historic events during the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century.

As a kid growing up in El Paso, I had always heard stories from family members about life on the border at the turn of the 20th century...but there really wasn't anything that could ever confirm or dispel any of those stories until now. Romo has done an incredible job of putting together the history - both good and bad - of life on the El Paso border over a century ago.

This book is extremely well documented with excellent citations, making it a must-own for any library or collection of border history.
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Format: Paperback
This book takes you into the time period in these two cities, their different social classes, their cultures, the religious, political and social environments. It tells us about what the newspapers were doing, and who owned them. I knew that activites important to the Revolution had taken place in El Paso and Cd. Juarez, but didn't realize to what extent. I also knew that important figures from different factions of the Revolution had been in El Paso and Juarez, but didn't know how many had spent time there and carried out activites related to the war there. A great book. A great read. If you are interested in the Mexican Revolution, I highly recommend this book.

Laura Cummings
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Format: Paperback
Having grown up in the Juarez/El Paso border, I was amazed by the way this work delves into its rich history in such an entertaining way and brings awareness to the fact that a significant part of it has been purposefully hidden from our generation or simply forgotten. I applaud the work done by David Romo because it touches on many aspects of the culture of both cities (e.g. their press, music, beliefs, etc) in such a way that it will leave readers familiar with the area hungry to learn and understand more about it. "Ringside Seat to a Revolution" is a wonderful, easy-to-read book that I would highly recommend to anyone.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Political Corruption, oppression, manipulation, violence, and economic inbalance take center stage in this book. Most interesting is that the Nazi's used El Paso's gas chambers for broader crossers in their own dubious plans in WWII. Not the Leon Metz sanitized history you have all heard. Has anything changed?
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