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BANDITS, ELVIS, AND OTHER MYSTICS: An Interview with Paul Vanderwood

  • Eric Van Young


Paul Vanderwood, Professor Emeritus of History at San Diego State University, died in San Diego onOctober 10, 2011, at the age of 82. A distinguished and innovative historian of modern Mexico, Vanderwood authored or co-authored several books, mostly dealing with the political, social, and cultural history of Mexico between about 1860 and the mid-twentieth century. The four works for which he is best known are Disorder and Progress (1982), The Power of God Against the Guns ofGovernment (1998), Juan Soldado (2004), and Satan's Playground (2010), and they are discussed extensively in this interview.



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This interview was recorded by Eric Van Young at the home of Paul Vanderwood, in La Mesa, California, on July 29 and August 5, 2011. It has been edited minimally to eliminate some repetition, fill in a few lapses due to inaudible passages or conversational lacunae, and so forth. An extensive remembrance of Vanderwood, authored by Eric Van Young, will appear shortly in the journal Mexican Studies/Esttidios Mexicanos.

1. Hobsbawm, Eric, Bandits (New York: Delacorte Press, 1969).

2. Los Rurales mexicanos (Mexico: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1982).

3. Disorder and Progress: Bandits, Police, and Mexican Development (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1981; rev. and enl. ed., SR. Books, Wilmington, Del, 1992).

4. Vanderwood, Paul J. and Samponaro, Frank N., Border Fury: A Picture Postcard Record of Mexico’s Revolution and U.S. War Preparedness, 1910–1917 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1988).

5. Followers of the Mexican anarchist revolutionary Ricardo Flores Magón (1874–1922).

6. Samponaro, Frank N. and Vanderwood, Paul J., War Scare on the Rio Grande: Robert Runyon’s Pho¬tographs of the Border Conflict, 1913–1916 (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1992).

7. “An American Cold Warrior: Viva Zapata!” in American History/American Film: Interpreting the Hollywood Image, eds. O’Connor, John E. and Jackson, Martin A. (New York: Ungar, 1979), pp. 183201.

8. “Introduction: A Political Barometer,” in Juárez, edited with an introduction by Vanderwood, Paul J. (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1983), pp. 941.

9. Juárez, dir. William Dieterle, Warner Brothers, 1939; screenplay by Aeneas Mackenzie, John Huston, and Wolfgang Reinhardt, based on the popular history The Phantom Crown (1934) by Bertita Harding and the play Juárez ani Maximilian (1926) by Franz Werfel. Re-released by Warner Brothers in 1952, the run¬ning time was reduced from 132 to 106 minutes. This is the version generally available today.

10. Longitud de Guerra, dir. Gonzalo Martínez Ortega ( 1976), with Mario Almada, Pedro Armendariz Jr., and others.

11. By the term “border trilogy,” I am referring to Paul Vanderwood’s books The Power of Cod Against the Guns of Government, Juan Soldado, and Satan’s Playground: Mobsters and Movie Stars at America’s Great¬est Gaming Resort (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2010).

12. Vanderwood, Satan’s Playground.

BANDITS, ELVIS, AND OTHER MYSTICS: An Interview with Paul Vanderwood

  • Eric Van Young


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