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Romo, David Dorado

Romo, David Dorado

PERSONAL:

Education: Stanford University, graduate; attended the Centro d'Attivita Musicale, Florence, Italy, and the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.

CAREER:

Writer, historian, essayist, translator, musician, and cultural activist.

WRITINGS:

Ringside Seat to a Revolution: An Underground Cultural History of El Paso and Juarez, 1893-1923, Cinco Puntos Press (El Paso, TX), 2005.

Las Soldaderas: Women of the Mexican Revolution, Cinco Puntos Press (El Paso, TX), 2006.

SIDELIGHTS:

David Dorado Romo is a writer, translator, musician, and historian from the American southwest. He is a "fronterizo," a person who grew up and lived on the border between the United States and Mexico, separated by the Rio Grande River, with El Paso on the American side and Juarez on the Mexican side. The son of Mexican immigrant parents, Romo experienced life in both countries at different times. Throughout his youth in El Paso and Juarez, he felt the lingering presence of the Mexican Revolution as it affected both Hispanics and Americans. Steeped in the fronterizo spirit that strongly defines the attitudes of the U.S.-Mexico border region, and well aware of the powerful effects that the Mexican Revolution still has on the area, Romo conducted a four-year search to document the important history of the area. The book that resulted from his work, Ringside Seat to a Revolution: An Underground Cultural History of ElPaso and Juarez, 1893-1923, "is a vital historical work for the Southwest," commented Sergio Troncoso in the El Paso Times.

In the book, Romo explores how El Paso and Juarez "became a hotbed of intrigue before and during and after the Mexican Revolution, with spies and counter spies angling for information, money flowing between revolutionaries and their benefactors," plots being hatched and missions carried out, Troncoso reported. He also uncovers a great deal of lesser-known history about the El Paso and Juarez regions. Romo shows how the Anglo newspapers of El Paso were strongly against the goals of the revolution, but he also demonstrates how Mexican immigrants were often mistreated by the American government. One of the more shameful episodes was a system of delousing that many immigrants were subjected to upon entering the United States. Forced to strip naked on the Santa Fe bridge, the immigrants were sprayed with strong toxic substances such as gasoline, kerosene, and eventually, Zyklon-B.

Romo identifies and profiles numerous important personalities of the time, including Teresita Urrea, known as the Saint of Cabora, a twenty-two-year-old Mexican woman with the apparent power to heal the sick. He tells of a plan by Ricardo and Enrique Flores Magon, two brothers, who schemed to take over Juarez. He identifies one of the Revolution's more unlikely heroes in Carmelita Torres, a Juarez maid who refused to undergo the dangerous and humiliating delousing process at the Santa Fe Bridge. Romo further describes how, as the Revolution unfolded, curious observers would take up positions on rooftops in El Paso to watch the events as they happened across the river in Juarez.

Romo's "book sheds new light on a fascinating era," commented Booklist reviewer George Cohen. His "writing is clear and profoundly descriptive. He brings to life the happenings and time so adeptly that you feel you are there. His writing draws you in and keeps you rapt," commented Gina Ruiz on Blogcritics.org. Above all, "this book is an education" about what happened in the American southwest during this turbulent time period, Ruiz noted. "Romo's meticulously researched and well-written book gives us the past we knew was there, the past we experienced, in our neighborhoods and in our families, and yet a past that is rarely the subject of history books, until today," Troncoso stated.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, February 15, 2006, George Cohen, review of Ringside Seat to a Revolution: An Underground Cultural History of El Paso and Juarez, 1893-1923, p. 34.

Choice, September, 2006, J.A. Stuntz, review of Ringside Seat to a Revolution, p. 184.

El Paso Times, November 13, 2005, Sergio Troncoso, review of Ringside Seat to a Revolution.

Hispanic, November, 2005, Ambar Hernandez, review of Ringside Seat to a Revolution, p. 70.

ONLINE

Blogcritics.org,http://blogcritics.org/ (March 14, 2007), Gina Ruiz, review of Ringside Seat to a Revolution.

Cinco Puntos Press Web site,http://www.cincopuntos.com/ (January 28, 2008), biography of David Dorado Romo.

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