Jesús García—an obscure reply to the question, “Who is your favorite hero?” Perhaps what is most appealing about this story is that it tells of an unknown man, confronted with a life-and-death situation.
In 1907, young García, a railroad employee of Phelps-Dodge Mining Company in Nacozari, Sonora, appeared an unlikely candidate for martyrdom. However, while engineering one of the trains which transported ore and supplies, coincidences ominously combined. Sparks from a faulty stack fell on dynamite inadvertently carried on the open ore car closest to Garcías’s engine and fire broke out. He and the crew, expecting an explosion momentarily, frantically fought to contain the fire but as it blazed out of control García shouted to the crew to jump. In those few moments, he determined to take the train beyond the town. Just as the train reached the outskirts of Nacozari, the dynamite exploded with tremendous force, killing García and twelve others. His bravery had prevented a far greater loss of life and the town of Nacozari was saved.
García’s story most certainly merits telling, and the authors have accomplished this in a bilingual, side-by-side English-Spanish text. Many interesting photographs depicting Nacozari and its townspeople in the early 1900s have also been included. But the attempt to recreate life in a frontier mining town and to capture García’s personality fails. The narrative only gains momentum by quoting eyewitness accounts and is curiously wooden in both English and Spanish. Unfortunately, García must await more skilled storytellers to do real justice to that fateful afternoon in 1907.