INTERVENTION! by John S.D. Eisenhower


The United States and the Mexican Revolution, 1913-1917
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 An assured popular history of cross-border turmoil that inaugurated more than 75 years of US intervention in Latin American affairs--and that produced lasting resentment in our neighbors to the south. Eisenhower--son of the late President and an accomplished military historian (So Far from God, 1989, etc.)--covers an entire tumultuous decade in Mexican history, 1910-20, when a succession of Mexican politicians, warlords, and outlaws squabbled over land reform and the spoils of power. The author traces US involvement in the struggle back to Woodrow Wilson's revulsion toward General Victoriano Huerta, who in 1913 overthrew the ineffectual reformer Francisco Madero and ordered his assassination. Wilson's disinclination toward saber-rattling was soon overcome by his father-knows-best moralism (as he once told a British interviewer: ``I am going to teach the South American republics to elect good men!''). His patience snapped by the failure of the diplomatic ``watchful waiting'' he hoped would lead to Huerta's ouster, Wilson ordered the US Atlantic Fleet to occupy Mexico's major seaport, Veracruz, a year later. In 1916, he followed up by dispatching General John Pershing to capture Mexican bandit Pancho Villa, who'd raided the town of Columbus, New Mexico, partly to avenge US recognition of Huerta's successor--and Villa's foe--Venustiano Carranza. Outrage flared in Mexico over these infringements of sovereignty, and only with difficulty did Carranza and Wilson manage to damp the anger that they themselves had kindled. While Eisenhower pictures most of the Americans involved as heedless to the consequences of the invasion, he depicts the Mexicans (including the often romanticized Emiliano Zapata) mostly as corrupt, ruthless, or both. If there's a hero in this telling, it's Pershing: unbowed before adversity (he'd recently lost his wife and children in a fire), willing to share his men's privations, preparing for his imminent WW I glory. A colorful introduction to a landmark period in US-Latin relations. (Illustrations)

Pub Date: Nov. 8th, 1993
ISBN: 0-393-03573-5
Page count: 544pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1993


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