PANCHO VILLA: A Biography by Jean Rouverol


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Outlaw, general and revolutionary, Pancho Villa fought the battles of Mexico's ten year revolution only to be thrust aside after each victory -- distrusted by the very men he fought for. After a heroic beginning -- with the killing in defense of his sister's honor which made him a fugitive at 16 -- Villa soon dissipates our sympathies with a string of permptory executions and notorious escapades with women understandable only in light of the atrocities of his enemies. Villa never had a program to match the agrarian reformism of the Zapatistas, but there are glimpses of idealism in the lulls between battles -- his moving speech before the revolutionary convention at Aguascalientas and his enlightened management of the hacienda he ran after being forced into retirement. Rouverol is better at untangling the shifting political alliances and following armies on the move than at showing us Villa's character up close, but his long career, which spanned the eras of Madero, Huerta and Carranza, provides an excellent starting point for understanding the turmoil of those times and Villa himself eventually wins our respect as an eternal soldier of the revolution -- tragically unable to effect, or even enjoy, the social changes for which his military successes paved the way. As the only full length biography available at this level, Pancho Villa should ride the wave of renewed interest in Mexican history.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1972
Publisher: Doubleday