El Gancho: A Saga of an Immigrant Family's Journey Out of Mexico

El Gancho: A Saga of an Immigrant Family's Journey Out of Mexico

by Michael Travis


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594330483
Publisher: Publication Consultants
Publication date: 11/01/2006
Pages: 632

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El Gancho: A Saga of an Immigrant Family's Journey Out of Mexico 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Set in Mexico, during the final years of the iron fisted reign of Porfirio Diaz, Michael Travis takes us on an epic journey in time with powerful images that give startling clarity to the tumultuous events of the early 1900¿s. In a discontent Mexico, wrought with wild rumors and the lust for power, it was impossible to distinguish good from bad, righteous from evil, compassion from greed. A time of revolution and a social transition from Nineteenth century Victorian ideals to the industrial and geopolitical visions of the Twentieth century. A time when the government was in constant chaos, verging on disaster and threatening the very fabric of the Mexican people. It is also a part of American history that is often overlooked. A time, just moments outside of our collective memory, that is as relevant today as it was then. It is if history is tapping us on the shoulder and asking us to take a good second look. El Gancho is the story of a defeated people, joining a vast sea of brown faced refugees, heading North towards the promise of America. Away from a world that was spinning out of control, understanding only the hunger in their bellies and the cries of their children, This stunning narrative centers around one of those brown faces. Prudenciano Nava. A towering, muscular man with a commanding presence. A leader by choice or by force, he was a person who never took kindly to not being listened to. Nothing in his life went quite the way he had planned, and to say that he had a life filled with bad luck wouldn¿t be quite true. He was a man who lived a long life of making bad choices. Born into middle class Mexico, he grew up on the family ranch in Monte Escobedo in the state of Zacatecas. Unwilling to work on the ranch which he found uninteresting and a job that no one took notice of, he left the ranch and spent much of his early life pursuing his first love and eventual source of fame, the Jaripeo 'the rodeo'. His event was La Colleada, throwing the bull. La Colleada was a two man event in which upon releasing of the bull, one rider became the prey by waving red flags as he rode away from the charging animal. The second rider, the colleador, rode up from behind the bull, grabbing it by the tail and attempted to flip it onto it¿s back. It was a dangerous way to make a living but for Prudenciano and his partner Tereso Rodriguez, it was not only the ultimate rush, but at times very lucrative. For Nava, just as important as the money was the fame and admiration it brought. He thrived on it. All over the region of Chihuahua and Zacatecas he was considered the finest colleador in the circuit. He was a star. An honor that he never hesitated to remind people of. It would take the death of his partner, Rodriguez, in another Jaripeo, to send him home to the family Ranch in Monte Escobedo, begging for a second chance. As predictable as the coming of tomorrow, It didn¿t take long for the 49 year old Prudenciano to grow discontent and remember why he left the ranch in the first place. Restless feet and his disdain for taking orders led to a physical confrontation with his brother and to his relief he was soon asked to leave. As always, his exit would be in dramatic fashion. Love was not a concept he understood but before he left, he met a young woman who he fell infatuated with. Her name was Maria Paz. It wasn¿t difficult for women to fall under the spell of this magnificent looking man and Maria Paz was no different, but she was only Fourteen. When Prudenciano rode away from the ranch and into the night he took the soon to be child bride with him. Predictably they found themselves pursued by a very angry father and a posse more than eager to string up the kidnapper. Thus became their life of being pursued, moving from job to job, town to town. Victims of his bad choices a
Guest More than 1 year ago
Read enough books and you¿ll eventually find a book that encompasses all the elements you really enjoy: a well-written tale of adventure, action, realistic situations, and, most importantly, memorable characters in a great storyline. ¿El Gancho: A Saga of an Immigrant Family¿s Journey out of Mexico¿ by Michael Travis fits that description. On the surface, Travis¿ book is a fictionalized, but truthful, account of his great-grandparents and their migration from Monte Escobedo, Mexico, to Sydney, Montana. But beneath the surface is the story of the immigration of Mexican people to the U.S. in the early 1900s, a time when immigration wasn¿t the contentious issue of today. In fact, in those days, America actively encouraged migration. The United States¿ westward expansion with its attendant increase in agricultural production and the accompanying growth of railroads and the like called for large amounts of cheap labor. Mexican immigrants provided that labor more readily and cheaply than any other group. And helping hold everything together, Travis has made ¿El Gancho¿ a different sort of history book. He¿s made it interesting and entertaining as he intersperses his story of family with actual historical people and events. ¿El Gancho¿ (meaning the Hook in Spanish) centers around the life of Travis¿ great-grandfather Tereso Minjares, known in his earlier life as Prudenciano Nava. Talk about your memorable characters, Prudenciano Nava is that and more. In following the family¿s northern migration, Michael Travis manages to do something few authors writing about their ancestors achieve. Travis makes their lives extremely interesting and exciting, and yet manages to portray them with all their faults and frailties. We see Prudenciano/Tereso as an egotistical man whose pride, laziness, fondness of tequila, and disdain for honest labor leads him to make some seriously bad choices that affect not only himself, but others, particularly his much younger, long suffering wife, Paz. Although 33 years his junior, she is obviously the more mature of the two. Although the first chapter has 78-year-old Tereso Minjares taking a break from the sugar beet field and reflecting back on his life, the story really starts with the illiterate 48-year-old Prudenciano Nava toward the end of his career with the Mexican rodeo. Nava is a master at a particularly dangerous event known as tailing the bull. This event involves flipping a full-grown bull onto its back by its tail. Few men could do this as the experienced and wily bulls came equipped with more than a ton of muscle and very sharp horns. While his partner on horseback acted as a target to draw the animal into a rampaging charge, Prudenciano came from behind, grasped the animal¿s tail and flipped it on its back. That¿s if all goes well. When things don¿t go well, the animal¿s size, agility and razor sharp horns poses a real threat of serious injury or death for one or both men and their horses. Such was the case in Fresnillo when, in front of his estranged family, Prudenciano misses the tail and the bull kills his life-long friend and partner, Tereso. Depressed, Prudenciano practically begs to be allowed to return to his father¿s ranch. It¿s there on Emilio Nava¿s ranch that Prudenciano¿s life takes a significant turn. Quickly remembering why he left in the first place, Prudenciano rebels against work and the requirement to learn to read and write. As he resorts to his old ways of boasting and bossing others around, he alienates both his father and his older brother, Abundio. Then, he meets Abundio¿s 15-year-old stepdaughter, Maria Paz Esparsa. Following a fight with his brother, Prudenciano leaves, taking a willing Paz with him. They manage to throw off their pursuers long enough for them to quickly marry and their long arduous trip north begins. Over the ensuing years, Prudenciano tries valiantly to provide for his wife and their expanding family. But his prid
Guest More than 1 year ago
Michael Travis describes the attitudes and expectations of the Mexican culture with incredible accuracy. Even in modern days, I have seen many men and women struggle within their family roles for better or for worse. Prudencio Nava's difficulty with alcoholism and settling into a permanent home along with Paz's struggle to keep the family together reflects the lives of many Mexican family's today. El Gancho brings into the perspective the historical ramifications of the Mexican migration into the United States during the late 1800 and early 1900. It has given me insight into my own Mexican family's prejudices and mistrusts of other cultures and for authority in general. During his reading at the Fairbanks Arts Association Bear Gallery, Michael explained the extensive research necessary for this book. His hard work is to be admired. I wish I had his dedication to find out more about my family roots.
Guest More than 1 year ago
El Gancho tells the story of Tereso Minjares, a daring, stubborn and sometimes callously independent man who resisted traditional responsibilities and lived a life of unexpected adventure. Tereso was a con artist, a vaquero, a refugee, a family man, a survivor, a sobador 'healer' and above all, a storyteller. His tale follows from his days tossing bulls to the ground in the jaripeo 'the Mexican rodeo', to his adventures gunrunning for the Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa, to his experiences as a fugitive immigrant who re-invented himself as a horseman. Tereso's story is, above all, one of border crossings not only geographic, but socio-economic, cultural, and personal. Like a cat with nine lives, Tereso managed to stay one step ahead of the consequences of his misadventures, changing careers, countries, and even identities when history threatened to fence him in. Michael Travis' gripping, dynamic storytelling is a mix of adventure, historical narrative, tall tale, and family drama. It is sure to entertain and captivate readers as they ride with Tereso across the continent and the decades, pursing a dream of a better life that beckons from the North. El Gancho just won't let you go.