Page 264. " The thin horned moon lay on its back in the west like a grail and the bright shape of Venus hung directly above like a star falling into a boat "
Venus and Moon conjunction
Creative Commons AttributionVenus and Moon - Credit: Voobie

Named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty, Venus is the second planet from the Sun, and, after the Moon, the brightest natural object in the night sky.

Reaching its maximum brightness shortly before sunrise or just after sunset, it is commonly known as the Morning or Evening Star.

Page 267. " and eat cold atole "

Atole is a warm, porridge-like drink, thickened with masa. It is a traditional drink of Mexico and South America (where it is known as atol).

Click here for a Mexican atole recipe. 

Page 274. " She lived in this remote station with her husband who she said had given his eyes for the revolution "
The blind prophet Tiresias
Public DomainThe blind prophet Tiresias - Credit: Johann Heinrich Füssli

Blindness has been depicted by different cultures in a variety of ways throughout history. In Judaeo-Christianity, blindness was sometimes brought upon a person so that the mercies of God could be manifest in that person through a cure. The Ancient Greeks viewed blindness as a punishment from the gods, for which the afflicted was often granted compensation in the form of artistic genius or prophetic powers.

Something of the Greek tradition can be found in McCarthy's depiction of the blind maestro in Cities of the Plain, who if not quite a Tiresian prophet at least possesses a wisdom suggested as concomitant with his blindness.

The blind soldier in The Crossing is a different case altogether, and the story of how he came to his condition is related in a parable that owes as much to Nietzsche's abyss as it does to Plato's cave. The only secret knowledge blindness has imparted upon the ex-revolutionary is that all of humanity lives in a condition of 'ultimate sightlessness':   


He said that the light of the world was in men’s eyes only for the world itself moved in eternal darkness and darkness was its true nature and true condition and that in this darkness it turned with perfect cohesion in all its part but that there was naught there to see. [p.283]

Page 275. " He'd ridden east in late winter of that year and joined Maclovio Herrera "
Maclovio Herrera
Public DomainMaclovio Herrera - Credit: Bain News Service

The military career of Maclovio Herrera perfectly encapsulates the bitter, internecine nature of the Mexican Revolution.

The Herrera family had been loyal Villa supporters at the outset of the revolution: Maclovio Herrera and his brother Luis had been officers in his army. But following Villa’s split with Carranza, Herrera defected to Carranza’s forces. Angered by this betrayal, Villa swore to end the Herrera family. After Maclovio and Luis were killed fighting Villa’s forces at the Battle of Torreón, Villa kept his word and ordered the execution of their father José de Luz Herrera alongside his other two sons in March 1919.


Page 275. " In April he had fought at Durango with the rebels under Contreras and Pereyra "
Calixto Contreras (October 13, 1862 - July 22, 1916)
Public DomainCalixto Contreras - Credit: Archivo General de la Nación
Main Street of Durango during the war
Public DomainMain Street of Durango during the war - Credit: National Photo Company Collection (Library of Congress)
Orestes Pereyra
Public DomainOrestes Pereyra - Credit: Archivo General de la Nación

In April 1913 Calixto Contreras and Orestes Pereyra led an attempt to take the city of Durango, but were repulsed by federal forces under the command of Jesus ‘Cheche’ Campos.

Both Contreras, a professional soldier, and Pereyra, a tinsmith, had been involved in the Revolution from the start, taking part separately in the Madero uprisings of 1910 in their homestate of Durango.  After joining up with the División del Norte, Contreras became one of Villa’s leading generals and Pereyra attained the rank of brigadier general. Both men remained loyal to Villa to the end, even after he had suffered his most devastating defeats.

Pereyra was captured by Carranza’s forces and shot in November 1915. Contreras died three years later at the Battle of Guadalupe.







Los Dorados De Durango – Corrido De Durango (The Corrido of Durango



Page 275. " In the federal arsenal was an antique demiculverin of french manufacture "
16th century Demi-culverin
Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike16th century Demi-culverin - Credit:

Developed in the late 16th century, the demi-culverin was a medium-sized cannon often used in sieges for destroying walls and buildings.

Considered obsolete before the turn of the 20th century, that antique French demi-culverin was probably a remnant from the days of the French Intervention.