War on the Border: Villa, Pershing, the Texas Rangers, and an American Invasion

S. & S. May 2021. 368p. ISBN 9781982128869. $28. HIST
The latest work by best-selling author Guinn (The Road to Jonestown) is an excellent history of a defining moment in U.S.–Mexico relations, especially as the author explains the complexities of the Mexican Revolution (1910–24) in engaging detail. Tensions between the two countries were somewhat complex; U.S. businesspeople wanted to take control of Mexican property, and Mexicans wanted to have autonomy and be recognized and respected by the United States. As the author expertly tells, Mexican raiders, often led by Pancho Villa, began attacking U.S. border towns in frustration; in some cases, they killed inhabitants. Guinn says that the United States also made errors by killing civilians, invading Veracruz, and later undertaking the 1916–17 Punitive Expedition. In addition to the instability of a civil war, the Axis powers in World War I were keen on keeping U.S.–Mexico relations unstable, as Guinn recounts. This book brings into focus the several key players, including Mexican revolutionary general Pancho Villa and activist–turned–Mexican president Venustiano Carranza. Showing the tensions among different factions, Guinn creates a fast-paced narrative with twists and turns throughout.
VERDICT A thorough overview of an often-overlooked period in history that helps put present-day U.S.–Mexico relations into context.
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