The Life and Times of Pancho Villa

The Life and Times of Pancho Villa

The Life and Times of Pancho Villa

The Life and Times of Pancho Villa

Synopsis

Pancho Villa is one of the best-known figures in Mexican history. Based on decades of multi-national archival research, this study aims to separate the myth from historical fact.

Excerpt

Alongside Moctezuma and Benito Juárez, Pancho Villa is probably the best- known Mexican personality throughout the world. Villa legends pervade not only Mexico but the United States as well and have even reached beyond. They exist not only in the popular mind, in popular tradition, and in popular ballads but in movies made both in Mexico and in Hollywood. There are legends of Villa the Robin Hood, Villa the Napoleon of Mexico, Villa the ruthless killer, 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 correct or incorrect, exaggerated or true to life, these legends have resulted in Pancho Villa the leader obscuring his movement, and the myths obscuring the leader. So much attention has focused on Villa himself that the characteristics of his movement that in many respects make it unique in Latin America, and in some ways among twentieth-century revolutions, have either been forgotten or neglected. Villa's División del Norte was probably the largest revolutionary army that Latin America ever produced. The revolution he led was the only social revolution ever to occur along the border of the United States. It was also one of the few genuine revolutions produced by what might best be described as a frontier region on the American continent.

Perhaps even more exceptional, this was one of the few revolutionary movements with which a U.S. administration in the twentieth century attempted, not only to come to terms, but even to forge an alliance. Equally remarkable, the Villa movement was part of one of the few twentieth-century revolutions that still enjoy enormous legitimacy in its own people's eyes. In Russia, Leningrad has been renamed St. Petersburg, and in China, students questioned Mao's revolution on . . .

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