The Life and Times of Pancho Villa

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Stanford University Press, 1998 - Biography & Autobiography - 985 pages
15 Reviews
Alongside Moctezuma and Benito Juárez, Pancho Villa is probably the best-known figure in Mexican history. Villa legends pervade not only Mexico but the United States and beyond, existing not only in the popular mind and tradition but in ballads and movies. There are legends of Villa the Robin Hood, Villa the womanizer, and Villa as the only foreigner who has attacked the mainland of the United States since the War of 1812 and gotten away with it.

Whether exaggerated or true to life, these legends have resulted in Pancho Villa the leader obscuring his revolutionary movement, and the myth in turn obscuring the leader. Based on decades of research in the archives of seven countries, this definitive study of Villa aims to separate myth from history. So much attention has focused on Villa himself that the characteristics of his movement, which is unique in Latin American history and in some ways unique among twentieth-century revolutions, have been forgotten or neglected. Villa’s División del Norte was probably the largest revolutionary army that Latin America ever produced. Moreover, this was one of the few revolutionary movements with which a U.S. administration attempted, not only to come to terms, but even to forge an alliance. In contrast to Lenin, Mao Zedong, Ho Chi Minh, and Fidel Castro, Villa came from the lower classes of society, had little education, and organized no political party.

The first part of the book deals with Villa’s early life as an outlaw and his emergence as a secondary leader of the Mexican Revolution, and also discusses the special conditions that transformed the state of Chihuahua into a leading center of revolution. In the second part, beginning in 1913, Villa emerges as a national leader. The author analyzes the nature of his revolutionary movement and the impact of Villismo as an ideology and as a social movement. The third part of the book deals with the years 1915 to 1920: Villa’s guerrilla warfare, his attack on Columbus, New Mexico, and his subsequent decline. The last part describes Villa’s surrender, his brief life as a hacendado, his assassination and its aftermath, and the evolution of the Villa legend. The book concludes with an assessment of Villa’s personality and the character and impact of his movement.

  

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Review: The Life and Times of Pancho Villa

User Review  - Heribert Von Feilitzsch - Goodreads

Friedrich Katz was one of the great historians on the Mexican Revolution. His whole professional life was dedicated to illuminate the facts of this first social revolution of the 20th century. The ... Read full review

Review: The Life and Times of Pancho Villa

User Review  - Stephen Jones - Goodreads

At a cat-squashing 900 + pages, Katz' biography weighs in as the definitive study of Villa and in a broader context, the Mexican Revolution. Katz leaves few leads unexplored in his attempt to separate fact from legend. Purely sweeping! Read full review

Contents

Prologue
1
From the Frontier to the Border
11
The Revolution That Neither Its Supreme
57
Disillusion and Counterrevolution
126
An Unrequited Love
147
From Exile to Governor of Chihuahua
193
Four Weeks That Shook Chihuahua
229
His Relations with the United States
309
The Resurgence of Villa in 19161917
583
Villas Darkest Years
615
Villa and the Outside World
655
The Attempt to Create Villismo with a Gentler Face
680
From Guerrilla Leader to Hacendado
719
The End and the Survival of Villa
761
Conclusion
795
On the Archival Trail of Pancho Villa
821

The Elusive Search for Peace
354
Chihuahua Under Villa 19131915
397
The New Civil War in Mexico
433
Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory
487
Villas TwoFront War with Carranza
545
Abbreviations
837
Archival Sources
911
Bibliography
919
Index
955
Copyright

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About the author (1998)

Friedrich Katz is Morton D. Hull Distinguished Service Professor of Latin American History at the University of Chicago. He is the author or editor of nine books on Mexican history.

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