The General and the Jaguar : Pershing's Hunt for Pancho Villa: A True Story of Revolution and Revenge
Pulitzer Prize winner Eileen Welsome's gripping, panoramic story of a vicious surprise attack on the United States and the American hunt for the perpetrator: Pancho Villa.
On March 9, 1916, a band of Mexican marauders led by Pancho Villa crossed the border and raided the tiny town of Columbus, New Mexico. A military expedition was hastily organized to go into Mexico and capture Villa, suspects were rounded up, trials were held, and a virulent backlash against persons of Mexican origin erupted on the local and national scenes. General John "Black Jack" Pershing, once a genuine fan of Villa's, accompanied by a young George Patton, was told to assemble a group of soldiers, head into Mexico, and get Villa--dead or alive. The last hurrah for the U.S. Cavalry, the expedition would be the first time armored tanks, airplanes, and trucks were employed against an enemy. But as they descended into the nightmare of Mexico, the American troops were followed by spies and picked off by snipers, fought violent battles, and suffered in the scorching deserts and snowy mountains. Some would never return home alive.
A brutal tale of revenge and violence, Eileen Welsome's richly detailed account is equal parts Sam Peckinpah, Cormac McCarthy, and Stephen Ambrose.
Author Biography: Eileen Welsome is the winner of the 1994 Pulitzer Prize in national reporting and numerous other awards for her journalism. Her first book, The Plutonium Files, was the recipient of two PEN Awards in 2000.
In the early morning of March 9, 1916, Pancho Villa launched an attack on Columbus, N.Mex., that cost the lives of 18 American civilians and soldiers. The American government responded by dispatching troops, led by Gen. John Pershing, into Mexico in pursuit of Villa, while tensions continued to escalate between the two countries, bringing them to the point of war. Despite its title, this book is more concerned with the Columbus attack itself--as well as its root causes and general aftermath--than it is with Pershing's hunt for the perpetrator. A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Welsome approaches her subject with a novelistic eye for character and minutiae, devoting as much care to describing Villa's eyes as she does to his military philosophy. These digressive flourishes lend a raw humanism to her account of the attack, which plays as a series of horrifying vignettes and serves as the book's centerpiece. In the pages that follow, Welsome's anecdotal style occasionally saps the text's momentum. Overall, the vivid attention to detail compensates for whatever the narrative lacks in focus or efficiency. (June 2)
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Little, Brown and Company
June 01, 2006
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