An American newsman sent to report the Mexican Revolution, Reed provided a rambling account of his experiences, notable for its readability and vivid descriptions. He portrayed the chaos and improvization that characterized the early phases of the movement and the individualism, spirit, and ingenuity of the guerrillas. As reported by Reed, war in the revolutionary army was a mixture of gaiety and splendid disarray behind the lines, and tragedy, terror, and confusion on the battlefield.

Like other first-person accounts of this period, his picture is extremely biased, for Reed was enthralled with the revolutionary cause and reflected the prevailing stereotypes of the period. That Federal troops experienced the same hardships as his peon companions would never have occurred to him, since they were “the enemy” and somehow deserved any suffering. The usual errors regarding Huerta are repeated, and the battlefield narratives are extremely one-sided. This is particularly true in his account of Villa, who emerges as a veritable avenging angel of Mexico’s poor masses, while Carranza appears in an extremely unfavorable light. This version of Villa, though quite at variance with the facts, is illuminating as an example of Villa’s image among his troops.

Reed’s account is particularly interesting since it represents a case study of an American intellectual face to face with a revolution and strongly identifying with it. Indeed, some of Reed’s passages could easily have been written by American reporters visiting Cuba during the early phases of the Castro movement. In a sense, the volume reveals more about Reed than about Mexico, exposing the gullible näiveté of the idealistic intellectual whose conception of social revolution is confined to a few oversimplified generalities.

The editors provide an excellent introduction, which indicates Reed’s background and the parallel to current American intellectuals and also contains a capsulization of the Mexican Revolution. Explanatory footnotes provide highly useful thumbnail sketches of individuals mentioned by Reed. Students would also have benefited from footnote comments pointing out where Reed’s descriptions reflected a faulty knowledge of Spanish and his pro-Revolutionary bias.

The appearance of the volume will surely be welcome to all those teaching courses in Mexican history, for they will find it useful as a supplementary reading, along with other recently reissued first-person accounts from this period.