Pulitzer Prize winner Welsome's gripping, panoramic story reveals a vicious surprise attack on the United States and America's hunt for the perpetrator, Pancho Villa.
In the early morning of March 9, 1916, Pancho Villa launched an attack on Columbus, N.Mex., that cost the lives of 18 American civilians and soldiers. The American government responded by dispatching troops, led by Gen. John Pershing, into Mexico in pursuit of Villa, while tensions continued to escalate between the two countries, bringing them to the point of war. Despite its title, this book is more concerned with the Columbus attack itself as well as its root causes and general aftermath than it is with Pershing's hunt for the perpetrator. A Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Welsome approaches her subject with a novelistic eye for character and minutiae, devoting as much care to describing Villa's eyes as she does to his military philosophy. These digressive flourishes lend a raw humanism to her account of the attack, which plays as a series of horrifying vignettes and serves as the book's centerpiece. In the pages that follow, Welsome's anecdotal style occasionally saps the text's momentum. Overall, the vivid attention to detail compensates for whatever the narrative lacks in focus or efficiency.