978-0-224-05051-7 / 9780224050517

Villa and Zapata: a biography of the Mexican revolution





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About the book:

Eric Hobsbawm once pointed out that peasants and bandits make as effective revolutionaries as intellectuals and lawyers. Frank McLynn's epic narrative of the Mexican revolution certainly proves the point. This dual biography of Pancho Villa--the feisty cowboy from the north and Emiliano Zapata, the dour peasant leader from the south--shows how both men held the balance of power at key stages of the struggle between the remnants of the Diaz regime and the new contenders for the presidency. At times there are too many characters in this tale--American film-crews, German spies, one-armed generals and countless conspirators--and too much information for the reader to digest. But generally the history comes alive. There is horror--murder, pillage and destruction on virtually every page--but glimpses of humanity too, as the simple demands for land reform were repeated time and again. Whether the Mexican revolution is as significant an event as the Russian or the Chinese is a moot point. The author shows that little changed in the country after 1919, and had real upheaval been threatened, the US army would surely have moved in. But Villa and Zapata were truly popular heroes, not invented cult-figures like Lenin and Mao. --Miles Taylor

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