By the beginning of the twentieth century, Mexico was free of Spain's colonial rule. But in the place of a foreign power, the country was presided over by Porfirio Diaz, who for thirty-three years had held near dictatorial power. Diaz was determined to industrialize his country, but was willing to leave the majority of his people poor and uneducated to do so. As it became clear Diaz had no plans to give up his power, revolutionary movements began building momentum throughout Mexico. In the north, the charismatic Pancho Villa raided rich cattle ranches to fund his growing army, while Emiliano Zapata, in the south, recruited farmers who had been stripped of their land to fight for him and their country. The support of Villa and Zapata helped Francisco Madero, an eccentric vegetarian aristocrat, take power from Diaz, but Mexico's revolutionary struggles were only beginning. Madero's power was soon threatened by various forces, including Diaz's nephew and Madero's own general, Victoriano Huerta. Their play for power plunged Mexico back into the mire of war, and for the next decade, Mexico was a battleground, as generals and revolutionaries fought each other, vying for power and the chance to lead Mexico. It was a desperate brutal time, from which no one escaped unscathed, but the years of violence and conflict helped create a new Mexico, and defined the country's future. Book jacket.