A Yanqui Doodle Dandy

Henry Adams published his eponymous autobiography in the early years of the last century.  Now, just about a hundred years after The Education of Henry Adams, we have The Education of Héctor Villa.  America is center stage in both, but they are two very different Americas.  The one Adams portrayed was on the rise and dazzling the world with its achievements, while the America of Héctor Villa (and of President George W. Bush) is no longer on the rise and no longer dazzling.  However, it is waddling along—and pretty darn content with itself.

The Héctor we meet in the opening chapter of Chilton Williamson’s novel is also pretty content.  And deservedly so.  Like Henry Adams, a direct descendant of two U.S. presidents, Héctor has an illustrious family tree.  He is a (collateral) descendant of Pancho Villa, who is, it might be argued, even more illustrious than any member of the Adams family.  As honored as those Boston Brahmins may be in the United States, they are of little account in Mexico, whereas Pancho Villa is memorialized on both sides of the border.  We are talking here about more than fast-food restaurants.  We are talking about Pancho Villa State Park right near Columbus, New Mexico, where, in 1916, several hundred Mexican revolutionaries, led by Pancho Villa, killed 18 Americans. ...

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