The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 78, July 1974 - April, 1975

Book Reviews

a mass of archival materials, newspaper files, official reports, and other
documents. No one will question the thoroughness of his digging or the
accuracy of his account. The only drawback is that he is unable to restrain
the novelist's habit of adding imagined details and dialogue and telling what
he assumes were the motives and thoughts of his characters.
The Capps book takes a strong hold on the reader, but it would have been
better history if the author had limited his writing to ascertainable facts.
Dallas, Texas WAYNE GARD
Twenty Episodes in the Life of Pancho Villa. By Elias L. Torres. Translated
by Sheila M. Ohlendorf. (Austin: The Encino Press, 1973. Pp. xi+
107. Bibliography, glossary. $7.50.)
Revolutionary hero or cruel bandit? An idealist with dreams of a Mexico
free from tyranny and class oppression or an illiterate ex-peon who knew no
way of enforcing justice except by the muzzle of a gun? In twenty well-
written and lively vignettes about Pancho Villa, Elias L. Torres examines
this ambivalence by recounting his personal recollections as well as those of
his fellow revolutionaries. The result is a splendid volume that, in my
opinion, presents the finest brief analysis of Villa, the legendary Mexican
folk-hero. The author writes, "From the life of that man I have garnered
what I offer now so that the psychology of his character may be studied,
refraining in each of these episodes from making any commentary whatso-
ever, so that readers may judge him, according to their feelings" (p. xi).
Unlike Martin Luis Guzman in his Memoirs of Pancho Villa, Torres does
not attempt a biography of the famed guerrillero, but skillfully blends his
exciting essays into the general background of the Mexican Revolution and
the power struggle among the chieftains of northern Mexico. Although the
chapters are arranged in chronological order, each essay is complete and
capable of standing alone. The author uses them to illustrate the various
quirks and moods of Villa's personality, from the fury of his vengeance
against those who aroused his ire to the tender and generous treatment of a
group of peasant women who petitioned him to be godfather to their
children. One of the chapters ends speculation concerning the disappearance
and death of Ambrose Bierce, a noted writer and journalist.
In his writing Torres retains the vitality and spirit of the period in his
choice of topics and in his skillful use of dialogue. We are indebted to Sheila
M. Ohlendorf for presenting us with an effective translation of this im-
portant work that preserves the integrity of the original both in style and
content.

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 78, July 1974 - April, 1975. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117149/. Accessed September 20, 2014.