John Reed was an American journalist who had been born into a life of luxury and ease but joined the socialist movement in the period right before World War I. A graduate of Harvard, he moved to New York where he became part of a circle of free-thinkers. He was very interested and involved in various workers' movements.
In 1913, he headed south with his lover the wealthy heiress and patroness of the arts Mabel Dodge to have a look at the Mexican Revoltuion. By that time, Mexico had been in upheaval for three years. In 1910, Francisco Madero, a wealthy landowner, had seized control of the government, overthrowing General Porfirio Diaz. When Madero failed to live up to his promises of land reform, he was in challenged by the peasant leader Emiliano Zapata. That revolution attempt would fail, but a group of rightist generals succeeded in assassinating Madero and replacing him with the American-backed restore the old dictatorship. With the help of the supposedly loyal General Huerta. Huerta was challenged, however, by Pancho Villa.
For four months, Reed would follow Villa on his march south from Texas through Chihuahua and south towards Torreon. Traveling not on an opulent train, but in the company of peons, Reed got to know firsthand the people who would support Villa in his ultimate overthrow of the Mexican government. This book tells in a very colorful fashion the story of those four months.
Reed would leave Mexico before Villa's job was finished. After a short time in the United States, he'd head for Europe, where he gained fame as a witness to the Russian Revolution. His most famous book would be Ten Days That Shook the World. The movie Reds, which starred Warren Beatty, would be about Reed and that portion of his life.
This report prepared by Ann Gaines