It is curious that since his death Pancho Villa has been transformed from a bitter enemy of all gringos to an American folk hero. Illustrative of the trend is the recent dedication of a state park at Columbus, New Mexico, with his name and to his memory—not to the memory of any of the Americans whom he killed at that site. The present work is another example in which Villa emerges as a hero, a great revolutionist, a modern Robin Hood, and almost but not quite a Sir Galahad. The author’s avowed purpose is to bring the man, Francisco Villa, to life, so that the reader can see what sort of a person the Centaur of the North actually was. “If I succeed,” he says, “you should be able to discover how tall he was, how he moved, the actual configuration of his face and body; his likes, hates, fears; his way of thinking, and his manner of speech” (Author’s preface— no page number).

Mr. Lansford’s research included numerous conversations with aging Villista veterans, and others who knew Villa personally. For his written and published sources he has relied heavily upon secondary writers, most of whom seem to be admirers of Villa. With this information as his foundation and employing the form of a novel, the writer endeavors to reconstruct Villa’s thought, speech, and action in various episodes of his life. As a vehicle of expression the fictional form is undoubtedly more flexible than historical narrative, but it leaves the reader in some doubt as to how much is actually Villa and how much is Lansford.

The author has succeeded admirably in giving a picture of the Pancho Villa of his own interpretation, for his style is breezy and sustains the interest well. Since he is openly villista in his sympathies, however, Carranza and other mortal enemies of Villa are handled rather roughly, and in ways that will not appeal to their aficionados. Also there are a number of points that are open to question, such as the inference (p. 247) that the Columbus raid was made by subordinates without Villa’s authority and the statement (p. 262) that American go-betweens were involved in Villa’s final surrender.