The Hispanic Malcolm X. Writer. Activist. Civil rights attorney. Obese, dark-skinned, and angry. A man with a surplus of personality. Man of vision. All the above describe Oscar "Zeta" Acosta. El Paso-born, Acosta became a leading figure in the Chicano rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s, winning landmark decisions in civil rights cases as an attorney. As a tireless writer and activist, he had a profound influence on his contemporaries. He seemed to be everywhere at once, knowing everyone in "el movimiento" and involving himself in many of its key moments. Tumultuous and prone to excess, he is the Samoan in Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. In 1974, after a last phone call to his son, Acosta disappeared in the Mexican state of Mazatlán.
Hailed as "a fine, learned homage" (Kirkus), "a kaleidoscopic portrait" (Booklist), and "a game of mirrors" (Washington Post), Bandido is a tour de force. Through interviews and Acosta's writings (published and unpublished), Ilan Stavans reconstructs--even reinvents--the man behind the myth. Part biographical appraisal, part reflection on the legacy of the Civil Rights era, Bandido is an opportunity to understand the challenges and pitfalls Latinos face in finding a place of their own in America.