The novel Playing for Pancho Villa is a story about Frank Holloway, a young mining engineer based on my own silver–mining grandfather, the fellow in the bow tie in the photo below. At the age of twenty-eight, Frank suffers from mercury poisoning. His doctor tells him to take a trip and get some fresh air. And so in 1916 he packs his father’s mare Tosca, crosses the border about fifty miles west of El Paso and and rides straight into the Mexican Revolution. With a fool’s luck he winds his way down between General Pershing’s Punitive Expedition (chasing Pancho Villa, who had just attacked Columbus, New Mexico) and General Carranza’s army which was rushing to block Pershing. Frank becomes the adversary, but not the enemy, of Pancho Villa, who in the end helps him out of a hopeless situation—in this passionate story of deserts, guns, horses and love.
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