Here are some excerpts from an "Ask Me Anything" session at 

I'll ask something of an obvious question: Pancho Villa. I've heard him romanticized and vilified, labeled a rotten bandit and a near folk hero. What are your own thoughts on Villa and his campaigns? Did they have significant political/social ramifications for Mexico?

The most elaborate biography of Villa written by Friedrich Katz (highly recommended!!!) finally tried to put this to rest. He was all of the above. He was an impressive military leader, fearless, motivating, sensitive, decisive, but also cruel, stubborn, unscrupulous. He was a social reformer in Chihuahua (established schools, broke apart large haciendas), but also a thief (he favorite sport was to round up cattle of large haciendas and sell them to the US market, he also took ransom for captives etc.). In my personal opinion, he was the product of his time, upbringing, and political/economic circumstances. Felix A. Sommerfeld liked him to a degree but was also quite fearful of him (like most who worked with him). However, he was one of the most important driving forces of the Mexican Revolution. Without his constant pressure (and that of Emiliano Zapata) Mexico would have sunk back into dictatorship whether with a revolutionary leader or a reactionary.