The Life and Times of Pancho Villa By Friedrich Katz. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998. Appendix, notes, archival sources, bibliography, index. xviii + 985 pages. $85.00 Hardcover.
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It is very unlikely Pancho Villa ever came to San Diego. Nonetheless, understanding him and his movement is important to San Diego history. It is important because one major root of San Diego’s history is firmly fixed in Mexico, and one cannot truly understand this area’s history without understanding that Mexican root. Katz’s biography, at nearly one thousand pages, is certainly the most definitive study of Villa available at this time. In it, Katz traces Villa’s origins, his early career as an outlaw, and his role as a significant secondary leader of the Mexican Revolution. Katz also deals with the social and economic context of the Revolution, and Villa’s role in that struggle. Perhaps most importantly, he tries to separate the historical figure from the web of mythology which has engulfed him. If one has the strength to lift it, this is the book to consult on Pancho Villa and Villismo.