tv Jeff Guinn War on the Border CSPAN July 26, 2021 5:59am-6:42am EDT
cannot risk it. yes it is entirely possible avery could have another shot that she has no guarantee in the desperation that follows that and the urgency is something i felt. when i finish law school and my family, we were economically precarious i was the first woman with real money. i cannot make mistakes. i could not stumble and cough up this one opportunity we know we will all do well eventually but we know this for sure and that sense of responsibility is what i wanted to put into her character but also create space for anyone who's thinking about do i take risk with what is at stake and what am i willing to jeopardize what i think is right?
>> i want to start by saying i thoroughly enjoyed the book it was a topic that was new to me but certainly enjoyed it. a number of years ago it helped me out. i went to mexico city i checked the opportunity to go to the national museum of the revolution and as an american citizen i just assumed everyone would have everything in the museum with english subtitles. i was wrong not reading one word of spanish i walked through the museum enjoyed the exhibits but i had no idea what it was about so now i know what it's about but i have read your book. i would like you to share what was the situation in the early h century along the border? what is more on the border about?
>> it focuses mostly on the attack of columbus new mexico in 1916 and then going into the expedition after. but we cannot really understand the things that happened during that pursuit unless we have the context of everything that went before and what happened after because it is still affecting us today. i had to start way back when when mexico first got its independence and they are thrilled. >> this is not cinco de mayo. [laughter] no. >> there is a lot of things that most of us in america don't know about mexican history because we just assume we know the alamo. maybe we know about the expedition and that covers it. it is such a rich and dense
and complex history but what caught me off guard where did this tension come from to begin with? mexico gains independence from spain. the united states, president trump quincy adams sends the first ambassador to mexico in the mexican government thinks we will have a real brotherhood. neighboring nations. to young democracies. they are a little ahead of us but this will be wonderful and the american ambassador on - - ambassadors asked how much mexican territory currently one.7 million square miles up to what is now wyoming, how much of that word mexico like to sell to the united states? and one week later are mexican government report suggested or
predicted that america intends to consume and by the time he makes the attack we have a situation with a 2000-mile border people on both sides take advantage of what's going in and out there is a lot of violence and theft and assault cattle rustling on both sides and each is convinced the other is a bad one mexico has so many internal problems 40 presidential administrations and 53 years at one point in and out nobody knows who is in charge and i'm going violent revolution in the states thousands of refugees trying
to get into america. >> it sounds familiar. >> that is the whole thing. the more i study this the more i realized every issue we are facing right now goes all the way back more than a century we just never stopped to try to do something about it with both sides working together. so they are two things going for him. the first is the poor people in mexico the rest of it belongs to american businessmen he presents himself as the only one trying to protect not just from the government but from the americans who invaded us several times before, getting ready to do it again.
the plan is we will attack an american town on the north side of the border in retreat carefully so the military will come after us into mexico then claim it is an american invasion than all of mexico will follow up on shoulder via out and it came very close to working. >> you mentioned several times how the the formulating the attack on this dusty little town it still that way not much different that t14 before i read the book and ensure like many others and said he was a band-aid they had a much
more complicated figure than that but he was a brilliant tactician and very amenable to changing his direction in a moments notice. >> and didn't mind switching sides frequently to benefit. >> who was t14? he said he was one of them and he pretty much what is his name and he was someone who is not above wrestling and getting in trouble with the law. actually he was pursued as a criminal of the federal
governments in place at the time caught up in the revolution and on opportunity there. >> he was a man of many parts and genuinely did want to raise up the people of mexico. he did not want to be president of mexico on the other hand he wanted to be the powerbroker. >> is not the only one that didn't want to be president. >> a lot of men turned. [laughter] but he had good intentions and great dark terrible aspects to his personality. he had a horrible temper and committed a couple of massacres of innocent villagers because things were not going his way. he thought he was a great friend but when they didn't recognize one of his enemies as the president of mexico he
turned on america on a dime and immediately wanted to kill is as many americans as he could. he understood tactics. you make a great point. somebody said isn't he like grant but the differences that grant had military training and learned things from experts that t14 did off the top of his head. we had a number of successes and terrible the feet. >> i was thinking of singleton. >> i had not thought about that you are exactly right. people have a natural gift and so did t14 to promote himself he sold the film rights to a hollywood movie studio and he comes into battle with people chasing after him with movie
cameras and lights. that is the way it really was. >> the other direction from the southern border is the united states on the eve venturing into the great war in europe and trying desperately not to get into that war and what surprised me simply because i didn't know this happened was how much of an entanglement mexico was involved in that more because of the european powers dating for their involvement. describe what germany was involved in. >> the last thing the germans wanted was america to enter world war i. they were officially neutral but it was obvious if we went in we would join the allies the best thing for germany is
if america and mexico teetered on the brink of we did not have a huge army at the time. it was underfunded. not a lot of modern weaponry. and that the soldiers we had were overseas with some of the first things so we can keep mexico in america at each other's throats then germany sets up a spy center in new york city to turn out propaganda and eventually they offered mexico a deal. if you join us to fight america and as they are defeated that gives you the right to take back some of the territory they took from you in the earlier war and they talked about texas and new mexico and arizona. they did not offer california
because germany offer that to the japanese. so a lot of the mexican antagonism and there were two open battles with american soldiers and the mexican government, germany is encouraging the mexicans with money and weapons germany is in the middle of it and mexico and america came very very close to work. open more. mexico never could have one that but america would have to use up the best soldiers in munitions fighting mexico maybe we couldn't get into world war i speaking of world war i that is john j percy who is also a big character in this book along with a very young george patton.
describe their roles. into you think pershing learned anything from fighting in mexico compared to europe from a military standpoint quick. >> with the general pershing with my research in this book he was put in an impossible position leading that expedition into mexico. first he is told the public expects you to catch teefour and bring him back if you can't do that at least destroy it so he can never be in a position to do this again. do whatever you have to do to do that. on the other hand, do not give any impression to the mexican people are government we are willing to come in as part of an invasion or to occupy it. don't upset the mexican government.
it is already upset and pershing chases teefour over northern mexico gets close but never gets him. he loses to those mexico forces when pershing knows he could just fight with those frustrations he is a proud soldier but on the other hand finally for the last six months they are up against the border surrounded on three sides by the mexican army, they cannot leave because the us loses face and they cannot break out with war with mexico. pershing brilliantly decides he will use this time to train soldiers he has for combat. mostar green when they went down there he organizes all kinds of training.
and when the us enters world war i a couple months afterwards and pershing is named commander of the american forces, instead of having to take an additional six months to a year to get any combat ready troops which is what germany was expecting, pershing takes troops he has personally trained and they go man right away. >> that is huge. >> people is a didn't pershing lose? >> no. he handle the difficult situation as well as could be handled and gave us a head start in world war i and that is winning. >> and pat and did he display this later with his proclivities to jumping the gun in this expedition trying to make a name for himself?
>> he always dead. as the starts patton is serving under pershing and texas he is 30 years old he has already represented the americans at the olympic games. he is a tremendous shot. he invented the patent saber the military will use but he really want so badly to be famous so pershing will not take him. pattern has the advantage. his sister is living in fort bliss and is being courted by general pershing. [laughter] now patent is too smart to tell them i'm coming - - coming with him that he's making it clear he's ready to go and he keeps telling
pershing i will do whatever you want. and pershing is set so finally he says why should i take you more than anybody else? he said because i want to go more than anybody else. so pershing will teach him a lesson at the crack of dawn how long would it take you to get ready and he said i'm already packed. i can come right now and pershing said well i will be damned you can come. on the expedition pattern leads now known as the first motorized attack by american forces and he personally, using his beloved ivory handled gun guns down one of the chief lieutenants and then to celebrate they have three bodies that need to be
identified, they strapped them on the of the jeeps like a deer and parade them back through the mexican villages and said let's make a point. this is what will happen if you support. ready he was a very distinct personality and he a lot one - - learned a lot being with pershing he's fun to read about and write about because he's always up to something. [laughter] >> that's right. something is usually not good some of the other fellows in this story like the texas rangers i don't mean any disrespect to the baseball team but these were bad people in general. would you characterize them as that quick. >> i will disagree they were
not almost. they were. that the history of the texas rangers is long and complicated. there were times in ranger history they performed great deeds on behalf of people who cannot defend themselves. god bless them for that there's books about bonnie and clyde and the okay corral and both times rangers are involved in the action and they are the angels. but at this particular period in time that texas rangers were basically a lawless group of racist men. and basically they were told to clean things up on the border and do what you have to do and they took that is open season on mexicans. i have heard some estimates say killed as many as many as
50000 innocents during this time and that is impossible. >> it's a small group of men. >> there were only three or four dozen but it is also true they killed almost indiscriminately. proudly they would report to headquarters they killed innocents but so what that just makes the point maybe the guilty ones are more careful. certainly 500 or 1000 innocent people died at their hands which is a terrible number and even more to copy what the rangers did. you could say the rangers directly or indirectly were involved with ten or 20000 unnecessary deaths on this is part of the legacy. it doesn't mean they didn't do anything good but this chapter is dark in have to be honest about it.
>> it really was. on the mexican side there were other great characters besides pancho villa and my favorite who is a sideline figure but i was really impressed with those who seem to be a survivors of talk about him and his role. >> if you read the booktv people think how will i keep track of all of these mexican names? >> not just colorful men but people whose lives had a definite impact in history and still do.
very much but have like to serve military purposes of a stable administration to keep its promises they made to its people and they tried very hard to do that as a revolutionary and even later carranza who was pancho villa a great enemy was a salesman, a teacher, certainly a military genius. he didn't have any training and when the german government supported carranza against pancho villa, and began trying to teach the mexican federals the same tactics germany was using in world war i, trench warfare, build fences, let the
enemy can't you, cut them down in charge, pancho villa was headstrong and that was the perfect foil for that. and then to go out with the help of german advisors in the federal troops and basically beat pancho villa from one end of mexico to the other. pancho villa is resilient and will come back but one has his arm blown off in the middle of one of these battles and keeps fighting. later, he is the military commander under carranza but then comes to believe that carranza is promising all kinds of things and will give up his office. that will not happen. he makes it known he will run for the presidency at which
time carranza orders his death but he could escape and later takes the presidency for himself. at this time he was probably the only mexican president who sincerely tried to fulfill the promises he made to the people if you elect me i will make it more democratic. he learned it wasn't that easy and pancho villa that was allowed to go into retirement said maybe i will run for the presidency. and then pancho villa was assassinated it was cutthroat but obregon was a man of great vision and a fine tactician not looking for personal glory. he was a great soldier and someone like yourself studying the civil war so carefully we
will see an awful lot of great traits to admire. >> that's why i was drawn to him. let's go back to columbus and mexico to mention the fact it is still a dusty little town on the border. but there is a celebration of the attack of pancho villa. word you describe how pancho villa is remembered today by the americans and mexicans and how that might be different? >> you are out on march 9th and : this is 30 miles south in new mexico right off of
highway ten it looks practically like it did in 1916. a couple of miles above the mexican border. nothing but dust and rattlesnakes. and a mixed anglo hispanic population. >> by the way that's not the chamber of commerce nothing but dust and rattlesnakes. >> they were having a problem because a few years ago the mayor of columbus was arrested for arms trafficking with mexican drug cartels. [laughter] they are still trying to recover from that. but the ceremonies itself if you go to columbus, very different based on the time of day. the older anglo citizens many who had grandparents involved in the attack by pancho villa and if you died at his hands, have a very serious
program in the morning to talk about the violence and the fact pancho villa was a terrorist. in the afternoon, allied of younger people who are interested in history, go to the state park across the road which is pancho villa state park named by the new mexico state government as an effort to show we have moved on from this conflict. there you hear an entirely different version of what happened at pancho villa was not a terrorist but as in his own mind a freedom fighter who was trying to do things that cause pain to both countries but felt himself forced to do that because he was fighting a corrupt mexican regime. doesn't mean it's right but they want to give more perspective and the two sides
don't mingle very much there is wonderful food trucks and great music all day by different bands but the older folks celebrate in the morning and the others in the afternoon. but it is so indicative those tensions or pressures of 1916 are still the same. the big beautiful wall, they tried to build the first one to keep unwanted mexicans out in 19 oh three. nineteen oh nine it was announced the longest wall in the world from the pacific coast from the rio grande they would go over or around or through and parts could never be dealt but nobody looked into that with these beautiful fences in the last few years
refugees trying to get away from violence in mexico coming into the united states many sick or starving or older were babies cannot take care of themselves how can those on the border never change we talk about these horrific camps that that some are in now and how this ever happened but it happened in 1914 and 15 and 16 so many things haven't changed and history can teach us lessons. i hope people entertained in reading this book but i think we will see a lot of things and wonder how come we haven't tried to solve them constructively between then and now? it will not change and how we do that. >> absolutely. >> probably not everyone that
picks up a book checks out the bibliography but historians do. i talked about this before we were on the air but i was wondering if you were able to access any of the archives in mexico? you talk to me about that and share that with everyone else. >> part of the problem i had researching the book was during the pandemic. it's harder to cross the border and to go down to find people. the american side doesn't want you to go through because it is dangerous to your health but i did work through some archives. may spanish is not good but i did my best to locate some of the finest modern-day mexican historians and trying to get
them to point me who i need to talk to her but i need to look at so i relied very much on that so first go to the bibliography what friends have written books? i rely a lot on their books and selected other books by a mexican historians that were very helpful. but the biggest was from archives that included both mexican and american documents. potentially we commend anyone who is interested to go to the university in texas and the archives of the big bend. they have a tremendous array of documents including books which collect documents that are germane on the mexican
side and even letters of the major mexican figures including pancho villa who is not literate although he acted like he was. >> pancho villa understood he needed to project days certain persona. so those like the military uniforms like the sashes in the metals in the fancy hat had a little bit of the confederate army like the csa that was part of the role they would play that the impoverished mexican man would simply wear loose stands, a shirt and a big hat to keep the sun out of their
eyes some kind of mustache but pancho villa deliberately adopted this look not only because it is effective but he is comfortable. the only time he dressed himself up to look like and then to expect those when the hollywood film crew tried to film him in action and then he put on the fancy uniform. he was not pretended to be a certain type of person. and on the side. >> and then to go to mexico
uninvited. and then held it for 11 months before finally leaving and then to get out but he was the one who kept saying the americans have a good reason to be here. it was only after they recognized carranza as a leader of mexico to hate america kill as many as he could with no compunction whatsoever. he was a survivor. >> .
>> i have a couple of questions that of come in if you are ready. so then we were wondering and what did you learn from being on location for the content of this book? >> that's a good question. this is good i heard your story was so wonderful that this is the above everybody thank you so much i try to go everywhere the people i'm writing about went. in this book it was not possible because of the pandemic that i did drive every mile of the border.
i also found a couple of places where some of the characters come across the border without permission and those are still open and i did it. i not getting any younger i'm glad nobody was there. [laughter] but it gave me an idea about even with the great wall it's easy to get through if you are determined to do it the way people waited talk in the town so then to have a cousin to give him or her a call. i was sad to see the antagonism on the mexican side and it seems inherent.
and then i was frankly the department - - depressed where the border is basically the main street and and then to be separated by the wall touching fingers through the slats. and then to touch the hands of their grandchildren it doesn't have to be that way i truly believe but again what i try to do this is the way it is to sound more positive for one side and the other but i do hope readers in this book feel i went out there and tried as hard as i could to bring them
with me to see what things are really like. >> i have a question from our owner and just wondered if you could talk about pancho villa and his bandit culture to l chabot and the cartel quick. >> one of the advantages pancho villa had and that the center in the northern mexican state. infrastructure was terrible it is very difficult in mexico city it's true then and true now and when you read about the cartels chihuahua and
sonora those that are closest to the borders during the time i am writing about the mexican government had to control the generals and troops they could not communicate with them or get them so a lot of these generals basically were little warlords and the cartels were doing that. and existed a century ago. and then pancho villa is at home with the cartels and the
net would have done very well. >> i have a last question. is there a myth to having pancho villa had? [laughter] let me say this. pancho villa was always happy to get attention. he was one of the ones who could have coined the phrase the only that attention is no attention whatsoever. i think his head is still attached. but it makes a great story and the fact that today we are talking about this. one hundred years after his death he would say yes. [laughter]
we will and on that note just for him. thank you so much for joining us have the link below this is great i really enjoyed listening and if you ever do get to mississippi please come to the store. >> i want to thank you in person. jim this is amazing i want to read your book can i get a copy to the bookstore? >> yes. you are half my order tomorrow. >> we can get it all figured out. >> have a good night.