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The Life and Times of Pancho Villa Paperback – October 1, 1998
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The historical figure known as Pancho Villa, hero of the Mexican Revolution, is shrouded in considerable mystery. His enemies presented him as a bandit and murderer, one who thought nothing of slaughtering innocent civilians and looting their villages. His followers considered him to be something of a Robin Hood forced to take action against the government only after stoically enduring its oppression for years. And hagiographers have assigned to Villa an important role in shaping the Mexican Revolution--an uprising that he joined somewhat late. That he was a bandit Villa never denied, but he protested being called a murderer: he killed only when attacked or betrayed, he said. Elements of many other stories made their way into American government reports, however, and went on to color the historical record. (That government, under the administration of Woodrow Wilson, took a considerable interest in Villa after he led an armed raid on the little New Mexico town of Columbus, making off with weapons and supplies.) University of Chicago historian Friedrich Katz carefully separates what can be reliably said about Villa's life from the tidbits of legend and celebration, and the extensive picture of Villa that he gives us (his book weighs in at nearly 1,000 pages) is no less interesting for all his debunking. Students of Mexican history will find much of value in Katz's researches. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
What this immense biography paradoxically proves is that it takes a major figure of major accomplishment to sustain a narrative of such length. The legendary Pancho Villa could barely sustain such tonnage; the real one?a slippery, semi-literate, largely nonpolitical outlaw whose opportunities on the national stage were inglorious and brief?can't. Katz, a University of Chicago professor of Latin American history and author of The Secret War in Mexico, has extracted every milligram of fact to weigh against the legendary life. Villa emerges as one thuggish upstart among many, who happened to enter American consciousness by invading a sliver (Columbus, N.Mex.) of the lower 48?the only time that had happened since the War of 1812?and afforded Brig. Gen. John J. Pershing the opportunity for an inconsequential but romanticized "Punitive Expedition." Although a charismatic leader, Villa did not make much of his (brief) control of revolutionary Chihuahua, and, in fact, the scourge of the landowner class ended his life as a hacendado. Bought off with someone else's confiscated land in 1920, he lived on this once grand estate of 163,000 acres until assassins got him in 1923 at the age of 45. Having deflated the legendary Villa, this description of the sleazy, sanguinary Mexico of pillagers and predators seems an extremely long footnote to history. 20 illustrations.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.