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

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A dramatic account of the “Punitive Expedition” of 1916 that brought Pancho Villa and Gen. John J. Pershing into conflict, and whose reverberations continue in the Southwestern US to this day. Jeff Guinn, chronicler of the Southwestern US and of American undesirables (Bonnie and Clyde, Charles Manson, Jim Jones) tells the riveting story of Pancho Villa’s bloody raid on a sm A dramatic account of the “Punitive Expedition” of 1916 that brought Pancho Villa and Gen. John J. Pershing into conflict, and whose reverberations continue in the Southwestern US to this day. Jeff Guinn, chronicler of the Southwestern US and of American undesirables (Bonnie and Clyde, Charles Manson, Jim Jones) tells the riveting story of Pancho Villa’s bloody raid on a small US border town that sparked a violent conflict with the US. The “Punitive Expedition” was launched in retaliation under Pershing’s command and brought together the Army, National Guard, and the Texas Rangers—who were little more than organized vigilantes with a profound dislike of Mexicans on both sides of the border. Opposing this motley military brigade was Villa, a guerrilla fighter who commanded an ever-changing force of conscripts in northern Mexico. The American expedition was the last action by the legendary African-American “Buffalo Soldiers.” It was also the first time the Army used automobiles and trucks, which were of limited value in Mexico, a country with no paved roads or gas stations. Curtiss Jenny airplanes did reconnaissance, another first. One era of warfare was coming to a close as another was beginning. But despite some bloody encounters, the Punitive Expedition eventually withdrew without capturing Villa. Today Anglos and Latinos in Columbus, New Mexico, where Villa’s raid took place, commemorate those events, but with differing emotions. And although the bloodshed has ended, the US-Mexico border remains as vexed and volatile an issue as ever.


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A dramatic account of the “Punitive Expedition” of 1916 that brought Pancho Villa and Gen. John J. Pershing into conflict, and whose reverberations continue in the Southwestern US to this day. Jeff Guinn, chronicler of the Southwestern US and of American undesirables (Bonnie and Clyde, Charles Manson, Jim Jones) tells the riveting story of Pancho Villa’s bloody raid on a sm A dramatic account of the “Punitive Expedition” of 1916 that brought Pancho Villa and Gen. John J. Pershing into conflict, and whose reverberations continue in the Southwestern US to this day. Jeff Guinn, chronicler of the Southwestern US and of American undesirables (Bonnie and Clyde, Charles Manson, Jim Jones) tells the riveting story of Pancho Villa’s bloody raid on a small US border town that sparked a violent conflict with the US. The “Punitive Expedition” was launched in retaliation under Pershing’s command and brought together the Army, National Guard, and the Texas Rangers—who were little more than organized vigilantes with a profound dislike of Mexicans on both sides of the border. Opposing this motley military brigade was Villa, a guerrilla fighter who commanded an ever-changing force of conscripts in northern Mexico. The American expedition was the last action by the legendary African-American “Buffalo Soldiers.” It was also the first time the Army used automobiles and trucks, which were of limited value in Mexico, a country with no paved roads or gas stations. Curtiss Jenny airplanes did reconnaissance, another first. One era of warfare was coming to a close as another was beginning. But despite some bloody encounters, the Punitive Expedition eventually withdrew without capturing Villa. Today Anglos and Latinos in Columbus, New Mexico, where Villa’s raid took place, commemorate those events, but with differing emotions. And although the bloodshed has ended, the US-Mexico border remains as vexed and volatile an issue as ever.

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

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    Fascinating Read About Seemingly Forgotten History. Let's face it, these days (and even when this elder Millenial was in school in the late 80s - early 2000s), American schools (at least, perhaps, outside the Southwest) barely even teach World War 1 itself - much less the other actions that were going on as America was trying to stay away from that war. I knew of exactly one story from the Punitive Expeditions before reading this book, and that was the story of George S Patton's first ever motor Fascinating Read About Seemingly Forgotten History. Let's face it, these days (and even when this elder Millenial was in school in the late 80s - early 2000s), American schools (at least, perhaps, outside the Southwest) barely even teach World War 1 itself - much less the other actions that were going on as America was trying to stay away from that war. I knew of exactly one story from the Punitive Expeditions before reading this book, and that was the story of George S Patton's first ever motorized attack - one of the events early in his career that made him truly legendary. Here, Guinn does a truly remarkable job of setting the stage and scope of the entire situation, from its earliest beginnings (even repeatedly referencing when the Spanish first came to central America) through the fates of the key players he has spent the text explaining. If you've never heard of this last war on Continental US soil before, do yourself a favor and read this book. If you want to understand more context for a lot of the current simmering tensions along the US/ Mexico border... do yourself a favor and read this book. Yes, the actions themselves were now slightly over a century ago - but if you're able to read at all, it means that it was in the time of no further from you than your great-great grandparents, and these actions still reverberate to this day in the lands and minds of those whose own great-great grandparents (or more recent) were actively involved here. Very "readable" narrative, never sounds overly "academic", and well documented to boot. Very much recommended.

  2. 4 out of 5

    David Crow

    Guinn does it again I have loved every book Jeff Guinn has written. They are deeply researched, fast paced, and always are full of great stories to support the main one. This superb book gives the reader a deep insight into the sordid history between Mexico and the US snd brings to life the fascinating snd notorious Poncho Villa.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

    Americans have been rediscovering the complexity of our history in recent years, and Guinn’s contribution on the subject is an invaluable one. The education system should provide the average American with at least some grasp of the Mexican-American War, Pacho Villa, and the Zimmerman Telegram. However, how close the two countries came to having the ‘Border War’ escalate into full blown war is seldom addressed. Guinn masterfully takes Pancho Villa’s raid on Columbus, New Mexico and uses it to prov Americans have been rediscovering the complexity of our history in recent years, and Guinn’s contribution on the subject is an invaluable one. The education system should provide the average American with at least some grasp of the Mexican-American War, Pacho Villa, and the Zimmerman Telegram. However, how close the two countries came to having the ‘Border War’ escalate into full blown war is seldom addressed. Guinn masterfully takes Pancho Villa’s raid on Columbus, New Mexico and uses it to provide a dramatic lens through which to examine relations between the neighbors from Mexico’s independence up to America’s entry into World War I. It is particularly interesting how Germany sought to exploit the Border War in an effort to keep Mexico in chaos and America distracted from Europe. This book is remarkably well written, capturing both the historical details and dramatic telling which makes readers interested in those details. From Patton engaging in the first fully motorized military engagement to the joint construction of the first permanent border wall, there are events small and large which will fascinate and educate.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Casey Wheeler

    The book is based on the “invasion” of Mexico by the United States in pursuit of Pancho Villa and the border wars that he and others instigated. The book is well written and the author does a very good job of making the events read more like a novel than dry history. He addresses the concerns of both sides of the conflict and what they were trying to achieve. The only misleading part of the book is that he includes the Texas Rangers in the title, but writes very little about them in the book its The book is based on the “invasion” of Mexico by the United States in pursuit of Pancho Villa and the border wars that he and others instigated. The book is well written and the author does a very good job of making the events read more like a novel than dry history. He addresses the concerns of both sides of the conflict and what they were trying to achieve. The only misleading part of the book is that he includes the Texas Rangers in the title, but writes very little about them in the book itself. A good book for anyone interested in the history of the American west as it came to a close with World War I. I received a free Kindle copy of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher with the understanding that I would post a review on Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon, my blog page and my Facebook page.

  5. 4 out of 5

    J.R.

    Jeff Guinn, an award-winning investigative reporter and author of a number of noteworthy historical sagas, has penned a riveting account of the troubled relationship between Mexico and her northern neighbor over a wide span of years. He begins with the alleged raid by Pancho Villa on the border town of Columbus, New Mexico, and the Punitive Expedition of 1916 that brought the U.S. and Mexico to the brink of all-out war. Guinn sticks with the generally accepted version that Villa launched the attac Jeff Guinn, an award-winning investigative reporter and author of a number of noteworthy historical sagas, has penned a riveting account of the troubled relationship between Mexico and her northern neighbor over a wide span of years. He begins with the alleged raid by Pancho Villa on the border town of Columbus, New Mexico, and the Punitive Expedition of 1916 that brought the U.S. and Mexico to the brink of all-out war. Guinn sticks with the generally accepted version that Villa launched the attack in the hope U.S. troops would cross the border in retaliation, thus derailing relations between the two countries and drawing support away from President Venustiano Carranza and to the revolutionaries trying to topple his regime. Villa did take credit for the raid, but he had also made claims about other matters when it suited his purpose. Alternate theories purport Carranza initiated the raid in hope of inspiring U.S. wrath against his enemies. And it's also a fact Germany was involved in efforts to keep the U.S. busy and out of the war in Europe, providing offers of weapons and other help to both Carranza and Villa. Despite diplomatic efforts, tempers were roused and General John J. "Black Jack" Pershing was authorized to launch the nine-month invasion deep into Mexican territory in pursuit of Villa and his forces. For the first time in history, the U.S. employed gasoline-powered vehicles and aircraft in a military exercise outside the country--resources which proved of little value given the ruggedness and expanse of the territory they traversed. This portion of the book is interesting and well-written. Guinn takes it several steps further, though, going into the earlier history of U.S.-Mexican relations and exploring such issues as Mexico's struggle to create a viable democratic government, U.S. expansionism, and appropriation of Mexican territory in the aftermath of the war of 1846-47, the conniving of U.S. representatives and business interests, the vigilante actions of the Texas Rangers, and much more. He paints vibrant biographical sketches of the various players, including Woodrow Wilson, Villa, Carranza, Persing, Francisco Madero, Porfirio Diaz, Victoriano Huerta, General Frederick Funston, General George Patton, and others. Often, people look at history as simply something that happened in the past. They forget those things of the past often have repercussions felt long into the future. We, today, are still experiencing repercussions of events that began nearly 200 years ago on the U.S-Mexican border and have yet to resolve them.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jay Koester

    I wanted to read to book to inspire me to visit Columbus, NM, and The Pink Store just across the border. A success on that front. But I was also pleasantly surprised how much El Paso/Juarez history was included, as well. I learned a lot, helping inform our politics of today.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    Story of conflict between US and Mexico at the turn of the 20th century. Good portraits of Pancho Villa and Woodrow Wilson in terms of the conflict.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com Biography & Memoir

    Reading history is a constant reminder that the world seems to be on a repetitive spin cycle of border conflicts, struggles for political power, and failed attempts at diplomacy. Over the past several years, the border between the United States and Mexico has been a never-ending source of quarrels. Some might think it began with Donald Trump's calls to build the wall, but as Jeff Guinn notes in his skillfully written history, WAR ON THE BORDER, Mexican-American relations have troubled both count Reading history is a constant reminder that the world seems to be on a repetitive spin cycle of border conflicts, struggles for political power, and failed attempts at diplomacy. Over the past several years, the border between the United States and Mexico has been a never-ending source of quarrels. Some might think it began with Donald Trump's calls to build the wall, but as Jeff Guinn notes in his skillfully written history, WAR ON THE BORDER, Mexican-American relations have troubled both countries since their founding days. In 1825, the first envoys of the young U.S. government were sent to Mexico City, the capital of newly independent Mexico. America’s southern neighbor had won her independence from Spain in 1821, and the two nations, each occupying 1.7 million square miles, shared a 2,400-mile border stretching from what is now Wyoming to Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico. Mexicans were initially surprised when the first diplomatic contact was an American offer to buy land in what is now the western United States. Subsequent years would confirm Mexicans’ concern that the U.S. would capture land by whatever means necessary. By the early 20th century, more than half of the original Mexican nation now belonged to America, and Mexican citizens resented how their northern neighbor treated them. In 1916, a charismatic leader named Pancho Villa was engaged in conflict with the Mexican government of Venustiano Carranza. Villa had been a friend of the U.S. and felt betrayed when President Woodrow Wilson supported Carranza. Recognizing the deep-seated animosity of Mexicans toward America, Villa sought to gain popular support by aggressive actions against the U.S. Further complicating diplomatic tensions between the U.S. and Mexico was the ongoing war in Europe. Possible American intervention in that conflict was the outgrowth of the emergence of the U.S. as a world power. Germany rightly assumed that if America became involved in the European struggle, it would be on the side of England and France. The Germans hoped that an American military presence on the Mexican border would divert attention from a potential intervention in Europe. Secretary of State Robert Lansing warned President Wilson that the one thing Germany was hoping to maintain in Mexico was chaos. That chaos could be avoided by diplomatic recognition to one man in Mexico who could be trusted to get his country under control and take over the border. Wilson finally agreed and chose Carranza. Both General John Pershing and the Texas Rangers are mentioned in the title of Guinn’s historical account, but they are not major players in the Mexican-American border conflict of 1916. Pershing pursued Villa in Mexico, but it was an unsuccessful campaign. The Texas Rangers, a revered Texas law enforcement organization presently undergoing a reevaluation of their role in Texas history, were involved at the border but not in sufficient numbers to influence the outcome of the diplomatic struggle. WAR ON THE BORDER is a great place for readers to begin a study of the subject, which will lead them to other books that are as deeply researched as Guinn's. The history of the border between the U.S. and Mexico is a complex issue that remains relevant today as the two nations continue seeking resolution over centuries of disagreement. Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman

  9. 4 out of 5

    Zella Kate

    I've been a Jeff Guinn fan for a few years now. I always make a point of keeping up with his new releases and hunting them down. This was an interesting one that touched on a historical period I should be more familiar with and am not--the Mexican Revolution. Guinn always does a great job of writing about controversial topics with considerable insight and a balanced, fair approach. His crime books remain my favorite, but I really enjoyed this one too. Pancho Villa's raid and the resulting Americ I've been a Jeff Guinn fan for a few years now. I always make a point of keeping up with his new releases and hunting them down. This was an interesting one that touched on a historical period I should be more familiar with and am not--the Mexican Revolution. Guinn always does a great job of writing about controversial topics with considerable insight and a balanced, fair approach. His crime books remain my favorite, but I really enjoyed this one too. Pancho Villa's raid and the resulting American incursion into Mexico don't occupy as much as the title and ad copy imply. It's really more an overview of Mexican history and border history at the time, which is all too relevant even now, that builds up to the raid and incursion, and is very interesting in its own right. It's probably one of the more accessible summaries I've encountered of what was a very complicated political situation in 1910s Mexico. My only problem is now I have to wait another 2-3 years for Guinn to write his next book. The struggle is real!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Carole

    This excellent book covers the U.S. invasion into Mexico in 1916 in response to a deliberate provocation by Mexican populist fighter Pancho Villa. Villa's was a strategic hit into the U.S., which he hoped would bring the U.S. into Mexican territory and impact the ongoing Mexican civil war. It did. The "Punitive Expedition" was led by Gen. John J. Pershing, who went on the lead U.S. troops in Europe in World War I, and lasted only a few months. But the ramifications of this step were significant. This excellent book covers the U.S. invasion into Mexico in 1916 in response to a deliberate provocation by Mexican populist fighter Pancho Villa. Villa's was a strategic hit into the U.S., which he hoped would bring the U.S. into Mexican territory and impact the ongoing Mexican civil war. It did. The "Punitive Expedition" was led by Gen. John J. Pershing, who went on the lead U.S. troops in Europe in World War I, and lasted only a few months. But the ramifications of this step were significant. Guinn is an excellent story teller and he capably covers the complex Mexican politics and U.S. national interests and calculations that led up to the invasion. The story is peopled with colorful characters, not least of which is Pancho Villa and the conniving Venustiano Carranza who is desperately hoping to hold onto power in Mexico City. Woodrow Wilson must made decisions about involvement in Mexico, while dealing with the conflagration in Europe. Pershing's son in law is none other than young George Patton, who strives to make a name for himself even then. The expedition withdrew without capturing Mr. Villa. You are sorry to see it end. Guinn goes on to briefly describe Villa's demise. In the process, he covers a lot of the cultural history along the border and the complex story of the Mexican civil war. His writing is clear and fast paced and thorough. It was a pleasure to read and to gain a deeper understanding of Mexican-U.S. relations over the years.

  11. 4 out of 5

    David

    I enjoy histories written by non-historians (Guinn is a journalist) like this one. A good non-historian writing history has a reverence for accuracy and a desire for readability, but is not bogged down by the need to address whatever topics and buzzwords are big with the academic crowd at the time of writing. For example, at no point in this book is the word “other” used as a verb or a noun. Although he does not engage in the rhetoric now deemed appropriate for oppressed groups, Guinn is very awa I enjoy histories written by non-historians (Guinn is a journalist) like this one. A good non-historian writing history has a reverence for accuracy and a desire for readability, but is not bogged down by the need to address whatever topics and buzzwords are big with the academic crowd at the time of writing. For example, at no point in this book is the word “other” used as a verb or a noun. Although he does not engage in the rhetoric now deemed appropriate for oppressed groups, Guinn is very aware that the Mexicans and Tejanos of the World War I-era were often treated extremely badly by arrogant Anglos, especially in the form of the paramilitary Texas Rangers. But he also knows and writes about the cruelty that Mexicans inflicted on themselves and the Americans, whether they were US soldiers wandering cluelessly around a hostile north Mexico landscape in a semi-authorized foreign invasion, or US civilians who felt (wrongly) that they were safe on the north side of the Rio Grande. All of the above has very loud reverberations in our own time. Being an East Coast born-and-bred history nerd myself, I was surprised because US history of this era, as I was taught it long ago, was marvelously uncontaminated by the violence and mayhem portrayed in this book. All of this stuff in Mexico didn't even merit a mention. As I remember it, we were taught that it happened like this: the US very reasonably held itself away from Europe's self-immolation for as long as it could, and then the Zimmerman telegram came along, and well then we just had to march in and show them they couldn't mess with US vital interests. You know, it's too late to correct the boring pedagogy of the past, but I can't help wondering if border violence and mayhem may have held the attention of teenaged boys more closely than memorizing Wilson's 14 points. Now that I think about it, the violence and mayhem in this book might even grab the attention of today's teenaged history nerd (if people like that still exist) – especially if he or she lives in the US southwest. I enjoyed reading this book because it told me about a place and time that I don't know enough about, in a way which actually stands a chance of sticking in my brain. I received a free advance electronic copy of this book for review. Thanks to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster for their generosity.

  12. 4 out of 5

    I. David

    Fascinating Look Back at a Time When the United States and Mexico Were on the Brink of War Please visit I. David’s blog at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show... War on the Border: Villa, Pershing, the Texas Rangers, and an American Invasion author Jeff Guinn takes the reader back to 1915-1917, a time when the United States was on the verge of war with its closest neighbor to the south. Its combination of political intrigue and military action makes this as riveting a page turner as anything th Fascinating Look Back at a Time When the United States and Mexico Were on the Brink of War Please visit I. David’s blog at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show... War on the Border: Villa, Pershing, the Texas Rangers, and an American Invasion author Jeff Guinn takes the reader back to 1915-1917, a time when the United States was on the verge of war with its closest neighbor to the south. Its combination of political intrigue and military action makes this as riveting a page turner as anything that I have read in some time. It is impossible to read War on the Border without considering it within the context of current conditions at our southern border. Today the border is a place where Mexicans and Central Americans line up to enter the United States seeking to escape poverty and violence in their own countries while the United States Border Patrol ensures that these prospective immigrants conform to the United States’ immigration laws. In the time described by Guinn the border was a place where Mexican bandits, especially those led by Pancho Villa, conducted raids on American cities, the United States Army led by John Pershing and George Patton pursued Villa into Mexico and the Texas Rangers summarily executed anyone of Mexican decent that they suspected of assisting Villa. The action described by Guinn takes place during the Mexican Revolution. It was a time when leadership of Mexico changed multiple times and each of the successive leaders had to contend with revolutionaries who were seeking to control all or parts of the country. Pancho Villa was one of those revolutionaries. He conducted raids both in northern Mexico and across the border into Texas hoping to draw the American military into Mexico so that he could accuse the current administration, led by Venustiano Carranza, of failing to drive them out. Guinn vividly paints Villa as the flamboyant character that he was. He considered himself to be the champion of the people and, to promote his efforts, had film crews follow him into action. During his years as a revolutionary he suffered numerous defeats only to return to the battlefield again and again. On the American side President Woodrow Wilson talked tough to Mexico and threatened military action if the Mexico federales did not capture Villa. But Wilson was actually hoping to avoid an armed conflict with Mexico so that he would have troops available for a potential entry into World War I. Needless to say, the Germans got involved, doing what they could to stir up trouble between Mexico and the United States so as to tie up American troops and make them unavailable for participation in World War I. Most of the narrative histories that I read are entertaining and informative. But War on the Border is one of the few that reads like a true adventure story. I give it 5 stars and recommend it for everyone.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Cj Zawacki

    War on the Border: Villa, Pershing, the Texas Rangers, and an American Invasion, reveals what has caused us to proclaim the wall in our society. Jeff Guinn's insights into the General "Black Jack Pershing's pursuit of Pancho Villa into the country of Mexico has shared the history of two nations seeking their roles for entry into the World Events. Both nations still young in the powers of acceptance face each other in political drama to establish a secure border. Mexico is struggling to raise its War on the Border: Villa, Pershing, the Texas Rangers, and an American Invasion, reveals what has caused us to proclaim the wall in our society. Jeff Guinn's insights into the General "Black Jack Pershing's pursuit of Pancho Villa into the country of Mexico has shared the history of two nations seeking their roles for entry into the World Events. Both nations still young in the powers of acceptance face each other in political drama to establish a secure border. Mexico is struggling to raise itself from a foreign Emperor Maximilian and the United States is healing from the Civil War. Both of these countries need monies to pay for these wars. Mexico sells off land to America at reduced prices forming our Western States, and Mexico receives money to help its citizens. In 1909 a border fence was proposed along the 137-mile California-Baja border to stop bandit raids of farmers in the area. As Mexico was fighting corruption of 40 administrations in fifty-five years, American companies started to move in the country to benefit from rail and mining interests. Larger hacendados ignored the poorer classes in their country. This led to border raids of cattle between the countries' pursuit of the bandits halted by the recognized borders. Bandit seemed free to attack Americans and flee to cross the border to be protected by Mexican troops. American President Wilson, not a strong foreign visionary at that time, made many mistakes in the Mexican Prestenditial campaigns of Madero, Zapata, Villa, and Huerta to establish a strong front runner to control Mexico. Woodrow Wilson's eyes turning to the wars in Europe finally grants a raid to halt one of the most famous raider of the time , Pancho Villa. Villa while seeking money and arms to set his rights to run for president against who he sees as another corrupt leader. makes mistakes but endears himself to American news readers. The history tells of the understanding of the Border Issues we still see happening today. Explaining the mistrust, the border guards, the calling of militias, forming of the Texas Rangers, and many other interesting starts of these countries borderlands

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    My thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for an advance copy of this history book. Over 100 years ago the border with the United States and Mexico was only one or two misunderstandings from being a war, with repercussions that could have affected history and the world in many different ways. This savage bloodthirsty time full of massacres and atrocities inflicted by both sides is seldom discussed or taught, or if so grossly underplayed. Jeff Guinn in his new work War on the Border: Villa, Pers My thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for an advance copy of this history book. Over 100 years ago the border with the United States and Mexico was only one or two misunderstandings from being a war, with repercussions that could have affected history and the world in many different ways. This savage bloodthirsty time full of massacres and atrocities inflicted by both sides is seldom discussed or taught, or if so grossly underplayed. Jeff Guinn in his new work War on the Border: Villa, Pershing, the Texas Rangers, and an American Invasion tells of border strife, miscommunication, politics, land, water, racism and greed that happened in the opening decades of the twentieth century. I remember this being covered in high school, but only in one day, maybe and it was more a bandit attacked an American town, and the army went after him. Not the lengths the army went, the casualties nor the history that still haunts the area today. The book covers the contentious history of Mexico and the US, from the beginnings to almost the present day. The massacres, refugees and the outside influence from Japan and German trying to influence American foreign policy is covered too. I had an idea about German influence, mainly from the comedy movie Three Amigos, but this book tells more about the advisors and observers who helped to train Mexican officials in a attempt to keep America busy during World War I. The writing and the research, just like all of Mr, Guinn's book is very good and he tells the history well, covering both sides, and never leaving the reader confused or lost in what seems a simple narrative, but is actually loaded with many players each attempting to leave their mark. The saddest thing about the book is how little has changed at the border, nor our understandings of why things continue to happen. A great book for Father's Day, or for anyone who wishes to know more about southern border and its history.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Zeb Kantrowitz

    Though it looks like this is about Pershing chasing Villa for attacking American ranches and towns in Texas it a lot more than that. There are two parts to this story, the first being how the 'Punitive Expedition' grew into an American invasion of Northern Mexico, and almost led to a shooting war between the US and Mexico. The second part of the story is a very detailed discussion of the political problems of Mexico at the turn of the century. The approval for the Punitive Expedition came after m Though it looks like this is about Pershing chasing Villa for attacking American ranches and towns in Texas it a lot more than that. There are two parts to this story, the first being how the 'Punitive Expedition' grew into an American invasion of Northern Mexico, and almost led to a shooting war between the US and Mexico. The second part of the story is a very detailed discussion of the political problems of Mexico at the turn of the century. The approval for the Punitive Expedition came after multiple incursions over the border by Villa and other groups of bandits. Villa would come over the border, robe small towns, steal cattle and pretty much anything that wasn't tied down. But after he murdered all the men in a small Texas town the Texas Rangers were sent in. The Rangers turned out to be worse than the Villaistas who murdered any Tejan/Mexican they encountered whether they were insurgents or not. Pershing was sent in with the vaunted Buffalo Soldiers and other Cavalry in the last major deployment of the US Cavalry. They also used cars, trucks and airplanes in their search for Villa. The constant incursions into Mexico when looking for Villa caused multiple problems for President Wilson as he decided whether to join the Allies in "The Great War". Eventually Pershing and the troops were pulled out without capturing Villa, but did kill a lot of his followers. After 1911 when dictator Porfirio Diaz was overthrown after thirty-five years, turn of the century Mexico was in constant civil war with Villa in the North and Zapata in the South, and Carranza in Mexico City. It wasn't until 1920 that things settled down and the elected President was able to serve a complete term. But over those nine years, governments in Mexico City was like a revolving door with some leaders serving for months and multiple governments in the same year.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mike Stewart

    Pancho Villa's attack on Columbus NM in 1916 and the subsequent Punitive Expedition led by John J. Pershing into Mexico is usually dismissed as little more than a footnote. The description of these events usually includes the phrases "the wily Villa" and "eludes capture." The story is far, far more than that. Guinn places Villa's raid and the Expedition in a far larger context. The first half of the book is devoted to an overview of U.S.-Mexican relations (seldom good) up to that point and the co Pancho Villa's attack on Columbus NM in 1916 and the subsequent Punitive Expedition led by John J. Pershing into Mexico is usually dismissed as little more than a footnote. The description of these events usually includes the phrases "the wily Villa" and "eludes capture." The story is far, far more than that. Guinn places Villa's raid and the Expedition in a far larger context. The first half of the book is devoted to an overview of U.S.-Mexican relations (seldom good) up to that point and the confusing events of the Mexican Revolution. He also provides a convincing rationale for Villa's attack and details Germany's efforts to foment a war between the U.S. and Mexico. I learned that Villa didn't simply elude capture - there were political and policy considerations by both governments that worked to frustrate Pershing and aid Villa. The conflict in Europe was a constant factor in both sides' decision-making. Finally, in his final chapter, Guinn makes it clear that the tensions, distrust and hostility that exist to this very day are part of this larger narrative. Guinn's narrative straight-forward, workman-like and concise- not given to imaginative embellshment. His story especially resonated with me. My father-in-law as a young man was in El Paso and witnessed one of the battles fought there between the Villistas and federales. I vividly remember his description of Villa's men taking cover behind a wall to smoke some weed before jumping back out to resume fire. Wish he were still around to question further.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    Pancho Villa: daring revolutionary or barbarous horse thief? Depends on where your political alliances fell during the tumultuous decade long Mexican Revolution. Peasant born, he dreamed of overthrowing corrupt elites and kicking out American industrialists, who he saw as exploiting Mexico's natural resources. During the revolution and ensuing civil war, Villa eventually came into conflict when he infamously raided Columbus, NM to steal horse, guns and ammo. American public opinion demanded an a Pancho Villa: daring revolutionary or barbarous horse thief? Depends on where your political alliances fell during the tumultuous decade long Mexican Revolution. Peasant born, he dreamed of overthrowing corrupt elites and kicking out American industrialists, who he saw as exploiting Mexico's natural resources. During the revolution and ensuing civil war, Villa eventually came into conflict when he infamously raided Columbus, NM to steal horse, guns and ammo. American public opinion demanded an armed response from Pres. Wilson. Enter Gen. Pershing and the Punitive Expedition. Author Jeff Guinn provides ample background on early 20th C. Mexican politics and where Villa fit in from the progression of autocrats from Diaz to Huerta to Carranza. This is a well researched account of border raids from both Villistas and Texas Rangers. Guinn illustrates events through his use of documents from both sides of the border: newspapers, army dispatches, and eyewitness accounts. He provides the reader with multiple perspectives on cross-border conflicts; avoiding heavy-handed national biases. He also highlighted that era's newspaper industry's use of sensationalism, as a form of propaganda. Action, research, style and wit make this an enjoyable nonfiction/history read. I received a review copy through Goodreads Giveaway program. This review is my own opinion. P.S. Watch out for German spies.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Scott Martin

    This work covers a volatile part of American and Mexican history, one that has some notoriety, but given that I grew up in Texas, this was a part of history that didn't get a lot of discussion. The US and Mexico went to war in the 1840s, and they practically went to war in the 1910s, primarily with Pancho Villa and his raiders struck a US town in American territory, and the US sent forces into Mexico. Actually, this happened multiple times. Along the way, the author discusses the back story of M This work covers a volatile part of American and Mexican history, one that has some notoriety, but given that I grew up in Texas, this was a part of history that didn't get a lot of discussion. The US and Mexico went to war in the 1840s, and they practically went to war in the 1910s, primarily with Pancho Villa and his raiders struck a US town in American territory, and the US sent forces into Mexico. Actually, this happened multiple times. Along the way, the author discusses the back story of Mexico and US relations, with emphasis on the era from the post-US Civil War to 1917. For Mexico, they saw opportunity squandered, becoming a client state for US interests. Internal political fighting brought about warring factions, to include Villa. Along the way, American arrogance and greed helped exacerbate the situation, leading to men like Pershing and Patton getting their trial by fire before the Great War. The author does a good job with the history and figures. Yet, the strength of the work is the emphasis on the Mexican political and military interaction with the US. He does reference the role of the Texas Rangers, and it is not a glamorous one in this work. However, it can feel almost like an afterthought. There is the inevitable tie-back to the late 2010s and American policy towards Mexico, but the history is the stronger part. Worth at least one read. The rating is the same regardless of format.

  19. 4 out of 5

    William Harris

    I recently finished an ARC provided to me by Simon and Schuster of an upcoming book by Jeff Guinn entitled "War on the Border: Villa, Pershing, the Texas Rangers, and an American Invasion." I am pleased to report that it was a satisfying read indeed. I have read extensively in the literature surrounding Pancho Villa and the famous punitive expedition commanded by "Black Jack" Pershing and have seen nothing that more clearly elucidates the major players in this convoluted international incident f I recently finished an ARC provided to me by Simon and Schuster of an upcoming book by Jeff Guinn entitled "War on the Border: Villa, Pershing, the Texas Rangers, and an American Invasion." I am pleased to report that it was a satisfying read indeed. I have read extensively in the literature surrounding Pancho Villa and the famous punitive expedition commanded by "Black Jack" Pershing and have seen nothing that more clearly elucidates the major players in this convoluted international incident for the average reader. The writing style is clear, and the author gives more than enough background to what happened and why things worked out as they did, as well as the long term consequences of the incident. He is generally even-handed in his treatment of his subject matter although clearly influenced by current events. This book is more of a survey of the raid on Columbus, New Mexico within the larger context of the troubled events of the Mexican Revolution than a simple narrative history. The payoff is that the reader, especially the reader largely unfamiliar with this context, begins to get a new appreciation for the complexity of the often prickly relationship between modern day Mexico and the United States. I recommend the book to anyone interested in reading a fascinating historical tale that sheds a great deal of illumination on modern events on the U.S./Mexico border.

  20. 5 out of 5

    RMazin

    Jeff Guinn has the talent to make history exacting and exciting, with parts of his book sometimes focusing on one or the other. The first part of War on the Border is the more exacting part as it introduces Mexican political rivalries and jockeying during a turbulent era for that country. Shifting allegiances, dominance of forces and broken promises made it not only a turbulent time for the leaders but precarious for their struggling people. Hard to know then which side to support or back. The ex Jeff Guinn has the talent to make history exacting and exciting, with parts of his book sometimes focusing on one or the other. The first part of War on the Border is the more exacting part as it introduces Mexican political rivalries and jockeying during a turbulent era for that country. Shifting allegiances, dominance of forces and broken promises made it not only a turbulent time for the leaders but precarious for their struggling people. Hard to know then which side to support or back. The exciting part of the book occurs after Villa’s raid on Columbus. This may have been seen as the act that forged the Punitive Expedition, but it almost marked an intensification of border animosity that exists through today. Guinn highlights military and political strategies behind the scenes that are frequently not as prominent in classroom teachings of this era. More attention should have been given by those educators to that era…..for reasons concerning the border now. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing this title to review. History buffs will enjoy Guinn’s details. Readers with a new-found interest in this era and current events, will learn many new details previously omitted or glossed over in recounting SW history. Recommended.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Donna Herrick

    The relationship between Mexico and the United States has been fraught since American independence. Mostly the disputes have been the result of land grabs by the United States. In the meantimes American factory owners, farmers and ranchers set up shop in Northern Mexico to exploit cheap Mexican labor. The exploitation drives the workers to desperation, resentment and thievery. The American employ either their military or vigilantes to exact revenge, and then we have border war. This book focuses The relationship between Mexico and the United States has been fraught since American independence. Mostly the disputes have been the result of land grabs by the United States. In the meantimes American factory owners, farmers and ranchers set up shop in Northern Mexico to exploit cheap Mexican labor. The exploitation drives the workers to desperation, resentment and thievery. The American employ either their military or vigilantes to exact revenge, and then we have border war. This book focuses upon one such era - the early 1900s. Mexico was beset by corrupt oligarchs fighting against war lords like Pancho (Francisco) Villa. Villa would rouse the local populace to raid across the boarder in order to get supplies to fight against the Federales. Villa was indeed a brutal, vicious pest along the border. But, according to this book, before the worst of his depredations he was inclined to be friendly to the US if they would support him in his fight against the the oligarch Carranza. In this case, observing neutrality led President Wilson to not support the rebel Villa, but the elected Carranza. We nearly had a full-fledged war with Mexico, but for he fact that Germany and Japan were only half-hearted allies of Mexico.

  22. 5 out of 5

    John Yingling

    This is a story of power, greed, prejudice, racism, politics, diplomacy, military tactics, and the clash of personalities along with the damage and horror that ensued. I kept thinking to myself throughout the book, "If only..." as events unfolded. I think that it is also a story of blind stubbornness and egos run wild. "The people", as politicians love to remind us when they are running for office, get shortchanged in all that happens in this book. Mexico and the United States could have gotten This is a story of power, greed, prejudice, racism, politics, diplomacy, military tactics, and the clash of personalities along with the damage and horror that ensued. I kept thinking to myself throughout the book, "If only..." as events unfolded. I think that it is also a story of blind stubbornness and egos run wild. "The people", as politicians love to remind us when they are running for office, get shortchanged in all that happens in this book. Mexico and the United States could have gotten along and made compromises that would have been fair to both countries and to "the people", but all that got lost in the "I'm right and you're wrong" clashes of the countries' leaders, both political and military. The author does an excellent job of telling this story and sheds much light on a piece of American history that is often barely touched in books. He also tells a tale that unfortunately has relevance to present day events.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Derek

    This is a very insightful look into the border tensions between the United States and Mexico in the early 20th century and also the chaotic, to put it mildly, state of Mexican politics. I was only somewhat familiar with Jack Pershing and Pancho Villa. The former is the only figure in the book that comes out looking mostly positive, a steady, reliable military man who kept a level even in the worst of circumstances. Pancho Villa I knew to be a charismatic Mexican rebel. I was surprised to discove This is a very insightful look into the border tensions between the United States and Mexico in the early 20th century and also the chaotic, to put it mildly, state of Mexican politics. I was only somewhat familiar with Jack Pershing and Pancho Villa. The former is the only figure in the book that comes out looking mostly positive, a steady, reliable military man who kept a level even in the worst of circumstances. Pancho Villa I knew to be a charismatic Mexican rebel. I was surprised to discover that for all his talk about being an ally of the poor, he was as self-serving as the Mexican bourgeoisie he was constantly at odds with, always concerned about his image. Guinn tells how WWI - Germany in particular - played a factor in U.S./Mexico relations, which I was unaware of, and explains how today's border relations can be traced back to the tensions and violence from over a century ago. I received a free copy via Goodreads in exchange for this review.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    This is a well-written, generally enjoyable and entertaining book about a largely forgotten chapter in early 20th century American history. While most of the author's take on events follows well-documented accounts and analyses, it's concerning that his accounts flow without footnotes/references to source material. So as you're reading, you ask yourself where Guinn's conclusions come from. At the end of the book, the bibliography includes chapter by chapter notes, at which time you realize that th This is a well-written, generally enjoyable and entertaining book about a largely forgotten chapter in early 20th century American history. While most of the author's take on events follows well-documented accounts and analyses, it's concerning that his accounts flow without footnotes/references to source material. So as you're reading, you ask yourself where Guinn's conclusions come from. At the end of the book, the bibliography includes chapter by chapter notes, at which time you realize that the author apparently got the great majority of his material from previously written books and from interviews with published historians. Thus there doesn't seem to be a great deal of original research here. While I haven't read a lot on the subject of U.S.-Mexico relations and the Punitive Expedition, what I've seen (for example in Tuchman's "The Zimmermann Telegram") was more assiduously documented and believable.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Francis

    After back-to-back books about Charles Manson and Jim Jones, Jeff Guinn returns to his previous Old West forte with “War on the Border: Villa, Pershing, the Texas Rangers, and an American Invasion.” The most fascinating revelation from this book is that in the early 1900s, American and Mexico had a mini-war of sorts, with violent incursions and targeting of noncombatants on both sides. The cast of characters includes (obviously) Villa and Pershing, but also President Woodrow Wilson, the Buffalo After back-to-back books about Charles Manson and Jim Jones, Jeff Guinn returns to his previous Old West forte with “War on the Border: Villa, Pershing, the Texas Rangers, and an American Invasion.” The most fascinating revelation from this book is that in the early 1900s, American and Mexico had a mini-war of sorts, with violent incursions and targeting of noncombatants on both sides. The cast of characters includes (obviously) Villa and Pershing, but also President Woodrow Wilson, the Buffalo Soldiers, and a young, ambitious George Patton. As stated in promotional materials, “War on the Border” establishes a historical context for the American/Mexican conflict over their shared border that persists to this day. And therein lies the book’s crowning amenity: it can be read as a deep analysis of a long sociopolitical issue, or it can be read as simply a nonfiction, historical western.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    I received a copy of Jeff Guinn's War on the Border from a Goodreads Giveaway. This is a history book that emphasizes the story portion of the facts. It is easy to understand and exciting to read. It is more in depth than what is presented in schools, and includes good descriptions of the characters involved in the actions. The chapters clearly explain the titled historical events and include aspects of politics and strategy. I learned a lot about the U.S and Mexican events of the time and why th I received a copy of Jeff Guinn's War on the Border from a Goodreads Giveaway. This is a history book that emphasizes the story portion of the facts. It is easy to understand and exciting to read. It is more in depth than what is presented in schools, and includes good descriptions of the characters involved in the actions. The chapters clearly explain the titled historical events and include aspects of politics and strategy. I learned a lot about the U.S and Mexican events of the time and why they may have occurred. Some information is repeated as pertinent in another chapter, which helps as a recap of the timeline and events. The bibliography is extensive, and the notes could lead to further reading for those interested. The maps at the front of the book are also useful for those not familiar with border geography. This is an interesting and enjoyable book.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Don

    The best book I've read concerning the US "Punitive Expedition" into Mexico, to disband Pancho Villa's forces after a raid on Columbus, New Mexico, in 1916. Issues and prejudices between US and Mexican people are explored as to their historical origins, and their persistence in our times. Beyond that, I got a sense from this book about the importance of the relationship between the US and Mexico, on the world stage. I was amazed to read how close the US and Mexico came to war with each other, jus The best book I've read concerning the US "Punitive Expedition" into Mexico, to disband Pancho Villa's forces after a raid on Columbus, New Mexico, in 1916. Issues and prejudices between US and Mexican people are explored as to their historical origins, and their persistence in our times. Beyond that, I got a sense from this book about the importance of the relationship between the US and Mexico, on the world stage. I was amazed to read how close the US and Mexico came to war with each other, just as the US was getting involved in World War I in Europe. This was a very good read!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bill Olson

    I learned a lot about a topic I knew next to nothing. I can see how the events it describes continue to have effects even today between our countries and peoples. I also learned more behind the scenes working of governments and why they do the things they do, and how many world powers were involved in our border disputes with Mexico at the time near and during WWI. I was saddened by how our government viewed/views anyone different from ourselves, again with continued effects today. Well written I learned a lot about a topic I knew next to nothing. I can see how the events it describes continue to have effects even today between our countries and peoples. I also learned more behind the scenes working of governments and why they do the things they do, and how many world powers were involved in our border disputes with Mexico at the time near and during WWI. I was saddened by how our government viewed/views anyone different from ourselves, again with continued effects today. Well written and packed with information.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Robert Kendall

    Guinn's book sheds light on a little-known episode in American history: Pancho Villa's 1916 raid on New Mexico, and General Pershing's 1916-1917 "Punitive Expedition" in pursuit of Villa. Guinn is a lively storyteller, and there is as much action in this history as in one of Guinn's Western novels. Guinn provides excellent historical background, and he does a great job of situating the story in its World War One context. Guinn's book sheds light on a little-known episode in American history: Pancho Villa's 1916 raid on New Mexico, and General Pershing's 1916-1917 "Punitive Expedition" in pursuit of Villa. Guinn is a lively storyteller, and there is as much action in this history as in one of Guinn's Western novels. Guinn provides excellent historical background, and he does a great job of situating the story in its World War One context.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Richard Jackson

    Finished this in a day. A great read about an era I knew nothing about. If you are tired of the same old military histories centered on WWI and WWII, I would suggest you spend a few hours with this. A lot of interesting characters with differing agendas that collide off of one another including Woodrow Wilson, Venustaino Carranza, Black Jack Pershing and of course Pancho Villa. Throw in Buffalo soldiers and bloody Texas Rangers and you have quite a story.

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