At age 15, this son of impoverished sharecroppers was hiding from police in the mountains of northern Mexico and living in fear of bandits who roamed the region. Within a few years, he had become a storied bandit himself, leading gangs of hardened men on raids against wealthy ranchers, mine owners, and banks. His practice of sharing spoils with the mistreated poor of Chihuahua State gave him a Robin Hood reputation. In 1909, a revolution spread through Mexico, and Pancho Villa decided to join the struggle against forces of the country's dictatorship. He soon emerged as commander of the Division of the North, the largest and most feared of several revolutionary armies battling their way toward Mexico City. Victory morphed into a decade of infighting among leaders, with most of them, Villa included, eventually falling victim to assassins. He remains one of Mexico's most remembered figures – the subject of legends, songs, and movies about an era in which more than a million lives were brutally ended.
John A. Stewart is a retired software developer with degrees in biology from the University of Michigan. He enjoys foreign travel, and Mexico was his earliest love.