There are rumblings on the border… again…
Reps. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) and Mike Waltz (R-Fla.) introduced a bill seeking authorization for the use of military force to “put us at war with the cartels.” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said he is open to sending U.S. troops into Mexico to target drug lords even without that nation’s permission. And lawmakers in both chambers have filed legislation to label some cartels as foreign terrorist organizations, a move supported by GOP presidential aspirants.
I get it. Fentanyl has killed far more Americans than were killed in Pancho Villa’s raid on Columbus, New Mexico, which triggered the Punitive Expedition of 1916. The cartels ARE terrorist organizations. Who wouldn’t want to see some elite American forces smash those sadistic bastards? Or, as one friend suggests, just JDAM the shit out of ’em.
But… I hope that political muscle flexing doesn’t get us into yet another “grey zone” conflict that lacks a clear strategic goal and definition of victory. And I hope that the folks pushing a military option take the time to read their history on the 1914 occupation of Veracruz and the Punitive Expedition. These things tend to be be a lot more complicated and less satisfying than the rhetoric behind them…
Speaking of Pancho Villa…
Monk scouted up a translation of Paco Ignacio Taibo’s biography of Pancho Villa, timed to release on the centennial of the Mexican Revolutionary’s assassination in Parral, Durango, on June 20, 1923. It’s an expensive tome in hardback, but it must take it’s place on the Frontier Partisans Mexican Revolution bookshelf:
A reevaluation of life the man who saved the Mexican Revolution, published on the 100th anniversary of his death.
A wild ride and revealing portrait of the controversial Pancho Villa, one of Mexico’s most beloved (or loathed) heroes, that finally establishes the importance of his role in the triumph of the Mexican revolution by renowned crime writer Paco Ignacio Taibo II.
The last biography of Pancho Villa was published 25 years ago, and this new edition has been translated into English for the first time. This biography marks a kind of reinvention of the legendary Mexican figure of Pancho Villa. It is a masterful reevaluation and heavily researched account of his life. This book makes a new claim, finally giving Pancho Villa his due as the decisive figure in the success of Mexican Revolution. Here he is less the colorful bandito and more the incorruptible conscience that not only won key battles, but also maintained the revolutionary vision and led the way in terms of class consciousness.
Pancho Villa is a rollicking, sometimes hilariously comical, sometimes extremely violent, and always very personal portrait of the controversial Mexican historical figure Pancho Villa. Beloved crime writer Paco Ignacio Taibo II (a.k.a. PIT)—the prolific historian, biographer of Che Guevara and the founder of Mexican “neopoliticial” fiction—brings his tremendous storytelling skills to an account of one of the Mexico’s greatest legendary characters.
With his vibrant narrative style, Taibo describes the adventures of Pancho Villa with incredible stories, the stuff of history and tragedy, backed up by tremendous research. Throughout, Taibo unveils secrets about the life of one of Mexico’s most courageous and charismatic leaders. Includes period photographs that indelibly capture the rocky transition from the wild and agrarian past towards modern statehood.
PIT is a writer and documentarian of radical inclinations and a deep fascination with Villa. He produced a graphic novel on Villa’s epic assault on the city of Zacatecas, the decisive battle of the Revolution against the government of General Victoriano Huerta in 1914.
The Mexican Revolution has been, at times, a dominant thread in my Frontier Partisan studies. I have been a long time away, running other trails. Perhaps the anniversary of Villa’s assassination is a good time to revisit this epic era…
Tuesday brought the very fine news that Taylor Brown — whose work I esteem greatly — will release a new novel in 2024 — one about the West Virginia Mine Wars and the Battle of Blair Mountain. Hot damn!
I’m thrilled to share the news that my next novel, REDNECKS, is coming in 2024 from St. Martin’s Press!
What if I told you there was a battle on American soil in 1921 in which more than one million rounds were fired, bombs were dropped from airplanes, and a multiethnic army of 10,000 coal miners wore red neckerchiefs to identify themselves, earning the nickname “Rednecks”…and almost no one outside Appalachia had even heard of it?
This is that story.
Started in 2017, this book was one hell of a beast to write. The main character is inspired by my great-grandfather, a farmer’s son who emigrated from Mount Lebanon to the US in 1889, at the age of 14, alone but for a priest as chaperone, and graduated from the University of Kentucky School of Medicine, becoming a physician and medical examiner in rural Kentucky. I’ve always felt a special connection with him since we share the same birthday.
The book also includes a cast of real-life characters including Smilin’ Sid Hatfield and Mother Jones, aka “The Most Dangerous Woman in America.”
I’m especially indebted to my friend Jason Frye — a native son of Logan County, WV, where the battle took place — for his stories, encouragement, and editing, and to the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum staff for their recommendations and advice, and to AJ Grey and Julie Stevenson for their encouragement and editing prowess.
To get things right for this book, I not only had to read a library’s worth of books and talk to old-timers on the ground for their stories, but I took my dirt bike high and deep to find the old Blair Mountain battle sites where a car could hardly reach — and where coal companies still restrict access to much of the land.
I could not be more excited to share this novel with y’all.
Hawken Horse informs us that Apple Music and
East India Co. Amazon won’t promote his forthcoming (April 21) single Pennsylvania Long because it’s got an image of a York County Pennsylvania Long Rifle on it.
Spotify, Apple and Amazon have all declined my request to promote this single because it has a picture of a 253 year old York County flintlock on the cover (the song will still be available everywhere but they won’t let me market it the way I normally do on their platforms). So if you feel like helping me promote the song, you can just share the artwork or tell a friend. Anything helps honestly. Thank you friends!
This is jackassery of a highly refined order, and it must be resisted. The song drops on April 21.
A reminder that Seven Kings Must Die drops on Netflix on Friday, April 14.
Cowboys & Indians Magazine:
Get ready for second run of Joe Pickett, the Paramount+ series based on the neo-Western crime novels by C.J. Box. The drama will return June 4 to the streaming service with Michael Dorman reprising his performance in the title role of Pickett, a crime-solving Wyoming game warden who often encounters human predators in and around his small town of Saddlestring.
In Season 2, Pickett discovers a hunter murdered in the mountains, and realizes the heinous crime is just one in a series of gruesome killings. To solve the case and catch the killer, Joe must deal with a radical anti-hunting activist, a ghoulish set of twins living off the grid — and his own tortured past. Joe and his wife, Marybeth (Julianna Guill), discover that the murdered men weren’t as innocent as they seemed. But when they dig too deep, they are forced to go on the run and fight for their very lives.
The first two Season 2 episodes will be available June 4. Following the premiere, new episodes will drop weekly exclusively on Paramount+.
There are good reasons to be wary of having a war with the cartels. War is complex and can go incredibly wrong. At the same time, as you said the cartels are a threat. A lot depends on the strategy. If we have a good one it might be worth it, but that’s a big IF. It may better to just secure the border with military troops, but not go into Mexico.
And Mexico is a sovereign actor — and an important trading partner, now and in the future. We can’t simply act unilaterally. It kinda pisses them off that we have tended to act as though we can for a centuyry-and-a-half.
Quixotic Mainer says
Worse still, you will have a massive portion of our own population supporting the foe directly, and even more who will support the aforementioned folks out of empathy, family ties, and politics. It would be like combining the issues of prohibition with the tribulations of the Somalian peacekeeping mission. You would need a general combining Zachary Taylor, Elliot Ness, and Grand Admiral Thrawn to win that one.
If it were only as simple as a lightning raid to wreck the secret laboratory once and for all ,you could put me in the stack anytime. It would be far easier to take than giving people naloxone in front of their kids. But the truth is, as usual, a lot messier, and has more to do with sickness in our own culture.
H.P. @ Hillbilly Highways says
A destabilized Mexico would be much worse for the U.S. than a (relatively) stable Mexico with cartels operating with relative impunity. We need to recognize just how much worse we could make the situation. And that now is hardly the time to casually spend political and military capital we may very much need in the intermediate future.
I am very excited to hear about that Taylor Brown book. I always start coverage of labor law by talking about the Battle of Blair Mountain.
I went looking for that Hawken Horse song on Amazon Music and couldn’t find it.
Song drops April 21. I’ll make that clear in the post.
John Maddox Roberts says
I met Paco Taibo at a mystery con a good many years ago. I hadn’t heard of the Pancho Villa bio. I’ll have to look for it.
“Rednecks” a short fiction by Taylor Brown can still be found
on the Bitter Southerner website.
Quixotic Mainer says
Glad the Joe Pickett show is being well received. The world needs more CJ Box. I just hope they got hold of the goober who approved the scene where a red fox has swallowed a weasel whole and ask him to actually go outside for a bit.
Nothing good will come out of invading Mexico. Maybe securing the border and keeping the cartels out on this side would be a better idea. Plus there’s this pesky little giant elephant in the room regarding China and the 21st century opium war being waged on us that the politicians and media don’t want to seem to acknowledge the chinese involvement in.
Aside from that having WBGV roots I have some knowledge on the minewars. I used to live on what was once the airstrip used to drop bombs on the miners. I believe they shot one plane down or at least put it out of commission. Lot’s of bad actors on both sides of that situation. There’s a whole lot going on with what was happening then with political manipulation from both sides similar to what’s happening today and probably has always been.
Wow, what a cool place to explore. It’s amazing the degree to which the late 19th/early 20th Century labor wars have been memory-holed.
Natty Bumpo says
It really is. Not far from the Blair Mt battle site is the town of Logan. Named after the Shawnee/Mingo chief. Which there is a fascinating story regarding the Shawnee in that area. Chief Cornstalk had a daughter Aracoma who married Boling Baker. Baker we think was a british soldier who was either captured while under Braddock or switched sides. Not really sure. But he led a band of natives and others who raided the frontier during the revolution. We just don’t have a lot to go with there.
Speaking of the natives and people of that area of which I am one. Before euros arrived that area of present day WV was a gathering of rejects and misfits from about six other tribes. They became known as Mingo.
Later with european arrivals new rejects and new misfits appeared. And they intermingled produced offspring and created some interesting hell raising folks.
You also have Paint Creek nearby which was along a major north-south war path and got the name because this is where much warpaint was done.
And there’s more. It is some very rugged terrain. And also close by are ancient mountain top walls that no one has any clue who built those. Some alter top looking places. Even a wooden idol holding an animal calf was found under a slab and it doesn’t look like anything known to any culture around here.
There are so many untold stories buried in that ground. I would love to know the tale of that British renegade. This why I’m so addicted to this history and folklore.
lane batot says
How easy it would be, to starve out the Cartels, if everyone who uses, just stopped doing drugs. A pipe dream, I know, but I can still dream……
Ugly Hombre says
Yep, agree- best to just stop doing dope- but not gonna happen. Instead the current regimes local and national seem to be promoting it. Interesting that tobacco is now the evil weed and weed is medicine. Who woulda thunk.? M.J. has more cancer causing properties than tobacco and is helluva powerful now. Wacky weed can effect people mentally permanent EZ those days since its been amped up. Don’t Bogart that joint lol.
We could control the border and bring the illegal alien invasion down to a trickle if those in power wanted to. Instead the Democrats are vectoring them in to every state. Low ball figure is 5 million. Along with that, oceans of white powder drugs and un- taxed grass, terrorist watchlist people in the hundreds and who knows how many Chicom M.S.S operators?. 900 hundred percent increase in mainland Chinese illegal aliens jumping the border in the last year
Criminal Triads aligned with the Chicom intell agencies- are major players in the American dope epidemic according to reports.
Makes you wonder what connections Emperor Poo has at the highest levels?
Don’t go into Mexico- we tried that when we had military leaders like Pershing and men like Patton. Did not work to well.
Stop it at the border.
Hawken Horse says
Thanks for the mention, FP!
Lynda A. Sanchez says
Good afternoon from New Mexico.
Interesting string here. I agree about actually keeping our border closed and preventing all the bad drugs and millions now of illegal immigrants. We are being overrun, and our govt. could stop it but will not. Woe unto us in the next few years if we don’t get a handle on it now.
Looks like the Villa Bio may be really an excellent and intriguing account of this very complicated person. In fact, I just finished a long article and sent it off to the publisher about the Punitive Expedition and their use of Apache Scouts to track Villa and his Dorados. An amazing group of Scouts, and some were also involved in the Geronimo campaigns so we have the cross over from one era, the frontier times, into the “modern” era and the story of how the Apaches adapted and served. I will let you know when it is out. The images from the Mexican Revolution are also amazing. Photography was still pretty primitive yet there are some incredible shots taken in so many phases of the revolution and Pershing’s short lived expedition. He also had problems with President Wilson wanting to tell him how to operate.
Love the images of truck convoys alongside mule and horse headed south. Pershing was perfect for the job but was constantly held back by our meddling president and his kind.
Sound familiar? Anyway, I look forward to the book too.
Happy Spring. Lynda
Please let me know when and where the article is published.
the border situation is ridiculous. A grotesque example of political calculation and ideology triumphing over the good of the nation… and common sense.
Lynda A. Sanchez says
yes indeed, it is a grotesque example of mismanagement and the destruction of good people who live in the region.
I will let you know when it is published. Also, my computer was acting up so my two messages were similar. I thought one had not gone through. Sorry for that but there is new info about Villa and his belief in education.
Lynda A Sanchez says
hmmmm, and I just sent off a long article about Apache Scouts serving in the Pershing expedition. Will let you know when it is published. The images are amazing and the story compelling. Most folks have no idea there were Apaches scouting for Pershing while he tried to bring in Pancho Villa. They were a band of brothers and many had also served during the Geronimo campaigns. It is a story of the change from frontier-cavalry type fighting to the “modern” era of truck convoys and mule trains; machine guns and cavalry charges. Photos from the era are incredible too.
The book you mention also seems to be a worthy bedside companion. Villa was a complicated man who would surprise you. For example, he fervently believed in education for all children. He was basically illiterate, yet on his hacienda and in many pueblos he urged the people to build schools. He funded some of them and also suggested they serve hot lunches to the kids. He loved music and tried to have bandas playing for his troops to up their morale.
As for our broken borderlands. Pretty disgusting and if we don’t get a handle on it soon we will lose even more lives. Like Pershing, who had in President Wilson a man who was always trying to tell him how to conduct war, we need leaders who will cut through the BS and take action, even covertly like we did in Colombia.
Happy Spring. Lynda
Agreed with many of the commenters. Waging any sort of asymmetric war on the Cartel would result in a high percentage of civilian casualties and likely end up radicalizing countless Mexicans against the United States and likely bolster the Cartel in the long run. They’re simply too deeply interwoven into the Mexican government and economy. I’ve always enjoyed driving through the Baja and seeing the gorgeous desert landscapes, the crystal waters of the Sea of Cortez, the remote beaches, but’s always the lingering shadow of the Cartel hanging over the country. I was shocked the first time I encountered a military roadblock with the youngest soldiers I’ve ever seen armed to the teeth. One of the locals claimed they were guarding the border between two rival gangs.