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RINGSIDE SEAT TO A REVOLUTION

An Underground Cultural History of El Paso and Juarez: 1893-1923

by David Dorado Romo
Pre-publication special: 40 percent off until May 5
$26.95
$16.00
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Western Writers of America, Spur Award
Violet Crown Award 2005 for Non-Fiction, Texas Writers League
Southwest Book Award
El Paso/Juárez served as the tinderbox of the Mexican Revolution and the tumultuous years to follow. In essays and 240 archival photographs, David Romo tells the surreal stories at the roots of the greatest Latin American revolution: The sainted beauty queen Teresita inspires revolutionary fervor and is rumored to have blessed the first rifles of the revolutionaries; anarchists publish newspapers and hatch plots against the hated Porfirio Diaz regime; Mexican outlaw Pancho Villa eats ice cream cones and rides his Indian motorcycle happily through downtown; El Paso’s gringo mayor wears silk underwear because he is afraid of Mexican lice; John Reed contributes a never-before-published essay; young Mexican maids refuse to be deloused so they shut down the border and back down Pershing’s men in the process; vegetarian and spiritualist Francisco Madero institutes the Mexican revolutionary junta in El Paso before crossing into Juárez to his ill-fated presidency and assassination; and bands play Verdi while firing squads go about their deadly business. Romo’s work does what Mike Davis’ City of Quartz did for Los Angeles—it presents a subversive and contrary vision of the sister cities during this crucial time for both countries.

Product Details

10-digit ISBN0938317-91-3
13-digit ISBN978-0938317-91-3
FormatPaperback
LanguageEnglish
Page Count304
Product Dimensions8.5" x 11"
Publication DateApril 1, 2017
RightsAll Rights Available
Truly, the best seats in the house for watching the spectacle of the Mexican Revolution were located along the Rio Grande in El Paso, Texas and its sister city Juárez, Chihuahua. Indeed, these cities—like the city of Boston, Massachusetts, for the American Revolution—served as the intellectual crucible for the Mexican Revolution. This is where the first modern revolution of Latin America began. The heroes and images of this people’s uprising still populate the border’s cultural landscape like ghosts.

But as with so many histories that involve peoples and cultures of color, we’ve always seen the events through the wrong set of eyes. David Dorado Romo—a micro-historian, a man with his feet on both sides of the Rio Grande—gives us new eyes and a re-imagined perspective to witness these revolutionary years. Through detailed research, archival photographs and great storytelling, he relates the history of a long-ignored cultural and political renaissance that was born of the conflict to depose the Díaz Regime and the bloody struggles that followed. His history helps us define fronterizos, a hybrid group of people—not wholly Mexican, not wholly American—who played an essential role in launching the Mexican Revolution.
This marvelous cast of characters includes well known characters like the people’s revolutionary, Pancho Villa, who rides his Indian motorcycle through the streets of El Paso and Teresa Urrea, la Santa de Cabora, who was the spiritual inspiration for so many of the paisanos who gave their lives for Mexico.

But Ringside Seat is also about insurrection from the perspective of the peripheral characters: military band musicians who played Verdi operas during executions in Juárez; filmmakers who came to the border to make silent movies like The Greaser’s Revenge and Guns and Greasers; female bullfighters; poets; jazz musicians; Anglo pool hustlers reborn as postcard salesmen; Chinese illegal aliens; arms smugglers; and, of course, revolutionaries, counterrevolutionaries and counter-counterrevolutionaries.

Paperback with French Folds, with 240 Historical photographs and images, including 15 full-spread photographs and 30 photographs filling one page.

NPR, National Public Radio hosts a special broadcast from Ringside Seat to a Revolution titled
The Bath Riots: Indignity Along the Mexican Border.

Feature story in the Texas Observer!

Listen to David on uprisingradio.org!
The Newspaper Tree highlights the outcry of David Romo.

Young and Old March, Not Always Together

Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States
"It is 'people’s history' at its best."
full review >>
Paco Ignacio Taibo II, author of Guevara Also Known As Che and The Uncomfortable Dead
David Romo’s micro-history is brilliant. Here you’ll find what official history seems to ignore: the salt of the earth, the surprising anecdote, rumors, the absurd. The odd relationship between El Paso and Mexico makes this book all the more fascinating.
Booklist
"The book sheds new light on a fascinating era."
full review >>
El Paso Times
"Border musician and writer David Romo has uncovered an El Paso more Mexican than some people care to acknowledge."
- Ramón Renteria, 
full review >>
Dallas Morning News
"This is an extraordinary book. For those who love the tangled history of Texas and Mexico and their tragic border, it’s a treasure."
full review >>
RALPH: The Review of Arts, Literature, Philosophy, and the Humanities
"Romo could not get away from his hometown, and we should be grateful. He has collected a fine, fat book with more than 200 photographs and dozens of tidbits from El Paso-Juárez history."
full review >>
Southern California Quarterly
A project inspired by the anarchic avant-garde “mappings” of the Situationist International, Ringside Seat to a Revolution is a cultural and historical exploration of two geographical sites: cities on either side of the Rio Grande and either side of the Mexico-U.S. border. The author, David Dorado Romo, tells the story of a region marked by hopes and violence of revolutionary energy, delving deeply into the history of individual players through a wide variety of textual and photographic sources. Beautifully written and illustrated, this alternative history cum urban exploration is a treat for readers interested in border culture and politics as well as local history and folklore.
full review >>
The Monitor
"Romo’s book reads like its own shooting star for all those interested in this fascinating time period."
full review >>
San Antonio Express-News
"Romo’s book is entertaining, from the compelling photo on the front cover to the “walking tour” he includes at the back of the book. It’s filled with beautiful photos, and his prose reads breezily and easily, as an old friend speaking about something he loves. Romo has documented a history that, unfortunately, is seldom shared, even among El Pasoans and Juarez residents, and he’s done it with great style and even better research."
- March 19, 2006 
full review >>
Big Bend Sentinel
"[Romo explores] the back streets and seedier neighborhoods of El Paso and Juarez with their bars and jazz clubs full of soldiers of fortune an their tiny printing shops churning out revolutionary manifestos, and his book chronicles plenty of offbeat doings."
full review >>
El Paso Times - Leon Metz
"This is as fine a local primer on the early Mexican Revolution as we will likely ever read."
- Leon Metz, 
full review >>
Tucson Weekly
"Author David Dorado Romo comes off as one of those strange, quirky, brilliant folks you read about winning some sort of genius grant. .... It's about the previously untold story of the leading role Juarez and El Paso played in the Mexican Revolution, revealed through the lives of a collection of crazy, bizarre, offbeat individuals living there at the time."
full review >>
El Paso Inside & Out Magazine
"Romo’s book is fascinating reading for any denizen of the El Paso/Juarez region."
- Ann Branan Horak, 
full review >>
Yolanda Leyva, a University of Texas at El Paso history professor
"In a city whose popular history has been portrayed...as one inhabited only by gunfighters and conquistadores, it is a breath of fresh air to read about the profound cultural and social influence of the Mexican Revolution and Mexican-origin people."
Tucson Citizen Review
"He documents in rich detail the political renaissance that changed life along the border forever."
full review >>
Taos Daily Horse Fly Review
"Romo weaves together biographical, historical, and at-first-glance inconsequential facts, from the comical to the tragic, to convey a heady cultural and political intensity among the Mexican population along the border at the time."
full review >>
El Paso Inc.
"Books, articles and columns about the Mexican Revolution have floated around for decades. But this is one is different from anything we’ve ever read!"
- Betty Ligon, March 12, 2006 
full review >>
Click here to view all the reviews

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