Revolvers and Pistolas, Vaqueros and Caballeros
Debunking the Old West
by D. H. Figueredo
December 2014, 279pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-2918-5
$65, £50, 57€, A90
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eBook Available: 978-1-4408-2919-2
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In America, much of what we learn about the Old West is a fallacy.

This riveting exposé reveals how a distorted belief in Anglo superiority necessitated the rewriting of American western history, replacing heroic images of Mexican and Spanish cowboys with negative stereotypes.

Early Anglo settlers in the Old West crafted negative images of Latinos in part to help justify the takeover of land occupied by Mexicans and Spaniards at the time. Unfortunately, these depictions were perpetuated throughout the 20th century in art, popular culture, and media … eventually reshaping the narrative of the American West to the exclusion of the non-Anglo people. This book contrasts dominant lore with historical reality to provide a broad overview of the history and contributions of Latinos in the Old West.

Author D. H. Figueredo sets out to debunk the myths and falsehoods of the American West by chronicling the cultural perceptions that led to such historical inaccuracies. Through spellbinding accounts, chapters address such topics as the legends behind the caballeros, Mexican culture in the Old West, and the search for cities of gold in the Southwest. Arranged chronologically and thematically, the book examines how popular culture diminished the role of the Mexican vaqueros and illustrates how the image of the Anglo cowboy became the iconic symbol of the Old West.


  • Introduces topics unfamiliar to most readers, such as the role of Spanish-Mexican Jews, the presence of the Spanish Inquisition in the United States, and the real Yellow Rose of Texas
  • Reveals the duplicity of la leyenda negra to illustrate prejudices of the time
  • Traces the development of stereotypes such as the Black Legend, banditos, greasers, Zorro, the Cisco Kid, and "loose women," and how these characterizations came to depict Latinos in the Old West in the popular imagination
  • Documents Latinos' participation in the conquest of the territory west of the Mississippi
D. H. Figueredo is director of library and media services at Bloomfield College in New Jersey and an independent researcher and consultant on Latino studies. His published works include Greenwood's Encyclopedia of Caribbean Literature and Encyclopedia of Cuba: People, History, Culture as well as A Brief History of the Caribbean. He holds a master's degree in Caribbean and Latin American studies from New York University and a master's degree in library science from Rutgers University.


"Though written in accesible language and in a style that keeps the reader on the edge of the seat, Figueredo’s book should please demanding academics."—La Voz, May 18, 2015

“Author D.H. Figueredo compares historical facts with the Hollywood images of the 'Wild West' to explore the ways that Mexican vaqueros and their contributions were replaced with Anglo-centric narratives. The book address topics such as The Black Legend, banditos, greasers, Zorro, and 'loose women' both thematically and chronologically in order to document the role of Latinos, including Spanish-Mexican Jews, in the conquest of the territory west of the Mississippi.”—ProtoView, July 30, 2015

“In his richly researched book, Figueredo lays out how his lifelong interest in the subject [and] offers a scholarly approach and an entertaining read.”—The Star-Ledger, July 30, 2015

"Like a history detective, Dan Figueredo finds the clues, identifies the culprits, and sets the story straight as to how the West was won. Move over John Wayne, the real lawman was Marshall Elfego Baca, who took on 80 gunslingers all by himself in a gunfight that lasted two days! The Old West will never look the same after you read Revolvers and Pistolas!"—Alex Abella, Author of Soldiers of Reason: The RAND Corporation and the Rise of the American Empire

"Revolvers and Pistolas, Vaqueros and Caballeros: Debunking the Old West is a delightful and engaging review of Southwestern history aimed at revealing the origin and development of many of the myths held even today about Mexicans, Mexican Americans, and Latinos. Thoroughly researched and documented, the book will engage the general reader as well as the scholar as Figueredo explores how legends and stereotypes have colored our vision of Hispanics in the making of the American nation. Because the themes touched run the gamut from 'banditos' to the 'Yellow Rose of Texas,' readers will be able to regard today’s images of Hispanics on screens and in print with a critical eye. Figueredo has provided an invaluable guide."—Nicolás Kanellos, Brown Foundation Professor of Hispanic Studies at the University of Houston, Director of Arte Público Press and Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage
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