Intervention! The United States and the Mexican Revolution, 1913-1917.

Author:Jacobs, Travis Beal

JOHN S. D. EISENHOWER, (New York: W.W. Norton, 1993), 393 pp. $27.50 (ISBN 0-393-03573-5).

In the past few years the debate over NAFTA, the events and controversies surrounding the presidential election in Mexico, the collapse of the peso, and Mexico's conflict with the Zapatista rebels have made Americans more conscious of relations with our neighbor who share a two thousand-mile border. It is difficult, though, even as the twentieth century comes to an end, to understand Mexico without knowledge of the "tremendous upheaval" caused by the Mexican Revolution in the early years of the century. An estimated one million people were killed and during that period "the United States could not resist a temptation to meddle" diplomatically and, twice, militarily. As John Eisenhower emphasizes in this timely and readable study, Intervention!, those American actions "left a legacy of resentment," and he addresses the reasons for those interventions and what happened. Eisenhower, the author of So Far from God, an account of the U.S.-Mexican War, 1846-1848, poignantly adds: "The Mexicans ... have not forgotten the role that the United States once played in their internal affairs."

In 1911 Francisco I. Madero, naive and idealistic, ended the oppressive thirty-three-year-old Diaz regime and was elected president. But, within thirteen months, Victoriano Huerta led a counter-revolution which overthrew Madero, who was killed in a "grisly murder." This prompted uprisings throughout Mexico, three of which grew rapidly. Huerta's seizure of power and the different movements, led by Venustiano Carranza, Francisco "Pancho" Villa, and Emiliano Zapata, captured Washington's attention. President Woodrow Wilson refused to recognize Huerta and on a "flimsy pretext" he had the American Navy land at Veracruz in 1914. This Military occupation, an "act of war," lasted seven months. It was the Mexican opposition to Huerta, however, which compelled him to flee, and the revolutionaries soon turned on themselves. When Carranza's forces defeated Villa's, Wilson extended de facto recognition to the Carranza government; Villa, desperate and angry at the American decision, in early 1916 crossed the U.S. border and in a raid on Columbus, New Mexico, killed nineteen Americans. Wilson, consequently, sent General John J. Pershing and an army of nearly seven thousand men on a "Punitive Expedition" into Mexico after Villa. Not only was the mission, which marched some five hundred miles...

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