The General and the Jaguar


The General and the Jaguar

Pershing's Hunt for Pancho Villa: A True Story of Revolution and Revenge

Eileen Welsome

432 pages
41 photographs, 4 maps, index


November 2007


$26.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

On the cold, dark night of March 9, 1916, Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa—el jaguar—and his band of marauders crossed the border and raided the tiny town of Columbus, New Mexico. It was a vicious surprise attack, ending with corpses piled in the streets and psychological wounds that would last a lifetime. Suspects were rounded up, trials were held, and a virulent backlash against persons of Mexican origin erupted. General John “Black Jack” Pershing was told to assemble a small army, head into Mexico, and get Villa, dead or alive. The last hurrah for the U.S. cavalry, the “Punitive Expedition” marked America’s first use of armored tanks, airplanes, and trucks against an enemy. One of the deputies Pershing would choose was a recent West Point graduate named George Patton.
The expedition brought the United States and Mexico to the brink of war, but it also restored greatness to both prey and predator. More than a classic account of the war for control of the West, The General and the Jaguar is a brilliant chronicle of obsession and revenge and a dual portrait of John Pershing and Pancho Villa, two of the greatest military minds of all time.

Author Bio

Eileen Welsome is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist. Her first book, The Plutonium Files: America's Secret Medical Experiments in the Cold War, was the recipient of two PEN awards.


“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.”—Publishers Weekly

“Welsome lets the story—of an attack by foreign forces on U.S. soil, the racial and political turmoil it caused, the expense it necessitated and the frustration it provoked—tell itself. It's a good story, even if it sounds painfully familiar.”—Charles Matthews, Houston Chronicle

"The General and The Jaguar explores the volatile issues of nationalism, patriotism, and revolutionary fervor. It also looks at the dangers of one country sending a military expedition--in pursuit of a presumed, singular threat to national security--into another hostile, foreign country for the purposes of removing a menace who has terrorized citizens. It also, by the way, examines the ways in which militarization of a border can cause unanticipated problems. Yes, Welsome has written brilliantly about an incident that occurred in the early twentieth century. But The General and The Jaguar seems strangely relevant to the early twenty-first century. See what you think."—BookLoons

“A fast-moving and engrossing narrative. . . . [Welsome] provides a highly readable and informative account, which also offers interesting portraits of some key figures in the Mexican Revolution.”—Booklist

“A well-paced narrative account. . . . The skillful manner in which Welsome chronicles these events should enthrall anyone interested in this period.”—New Mexico Magazine

Table of Contents

Part I: The Attack
1. A Microbe Challenges an Elephant
2. A Diverting Brute
3. Veracruz
4. Downhill
5. Tell President Wilson to Save You
6. Only One Chance to Die
7. Rumors, Warnings, and Telegrams
8. Villa Is Coming Tonight, for Sure
9. The Fiddler Plays
10. Very Unnatural Deaths
Part II: The Hunt
11. To the End of the Furrow
12. Sunburn, Frostbite, and Blisters
13. Pershing's Indigestion
14. No One to Seek For
Part III: Revenge and Rvival
15. Gasoline Baths and Confessions
16. Jerked to Jesus
17. A Ripe Pear
18. A Terrible Blunder
19. Whore Dust and a Rabid Dog
20. An Old Colonel
21. A Reborn Town
22. Victims or Bandits?
23. Death Comes for the Horsemen
Casualties of the Columbus Raid
Selected Bibliography


Winner of the Southwest Book Award from the Border Regional Library Association

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