The Life and Times of Pancho Villa by Friedrich Katz

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Synopsis

Alongside Moctezuma and Benito Juarez, 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 Divisi-n 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.
 

About Friedrich Katz

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Katz is the son of Austrian Jews who sought refuge in Mexico at the start of WWII. His historical research brought new attention to the importance of northern Mexico and Pancho Villa in the Mexican Revolution. He is Professor Emeritus of Latin American History at the University of Chicago and the namesake of its Katz Center for Mexican Studies.
 
Published September 1, 1998 by Stanford University Press. 1032 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History. Non-fiction

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The sources seem to agree, however, that Villa was a minor bandit who managed through canny self-promotion to remake himself, as American president Woodrow Wilson put it, into “a sort of Robin Hood [who] had spent an eventful life in robbing the rich in order to give to the poor.” Katz places Vil...

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Publishers Weekly

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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.

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Project MUSE

(No doubt, the lack of a central repository of Villa papers has contributed to the dearth of academic studies.) Fortunately, it is hard to imagine a more definitive biography than Friedrich Katz's much-anticipated, nearly 1000-page opus, The Life and Times of Pancho Villa.

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News Review.

It’s hardly light summer reading, but I’ve been hauling this book with me to the pool when I go swimming each day.

Jul 27 2006 | Read Full Review of The Life and Times of Pancho ...

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