BOOK REVIEWS La Aventura De Los Toros En Internet by Miguel Angel Moncholi

No oen can deny the Internet has changed the face of newscasting and the written world. The bullfight has likewise seen dramatic changes, instant reporting and countless sources of information spring up since the Net flowered and bloomed. This book, however, exploring some of the foremost adventures in Internet coverage of the bullfight, might well be the first of its kind. Aside from an itneresting text, there are some outstanding color photos. Information on the book and others may be obtained at the website ... on the Internet, of course.

La Caricatura, Los Toros Y Fernando Vinyes by Fernando Del Arco De Izco

A compilation of the works of one of the bulflighting world's most prolific and beloved of cartoonists. Excellent and sometimes hilarious sketches of many toreros reprinted within the text are the true highlight. Juli, Victor Puerto, Antonio Leon, Manzanares, Robles, Damaso, Manolete, Mendes, Galan, Paquirri, Yiyo, Miguel "Armillita," Jose Ramon Tirado, Antonete, Cordobes, Viti, Miguelin, Linares, and on and on. Ordering information at for details as this is one of the many books this company has released unto the taurine world and while very distinct from past productions, may well become one of the best of their sellers.

Tragabuches by Maria Emilia Gonzalez

A biography on the infamous "bandit bullfighter" from the early days of organized toreo. Jose Ulloa was a matador de toros by day and by night, the leader of a gang of robbers. This book traces his mysterious life and offers one of the most complete looks ever, at this oddball character who has been made an urban legend within Spanish lore. Trying to seperate myth from fact becomes an unenviable task, but the author strives in noble fashion to do just that. While countless books exist on the likes of Manolete, Joselito, Belmonte, Cordobes and Yiyo, many of the fiesta's most colorful figures have been ignored and it is about time someone took it to task and did something on this man. While he obviously left a lot to be desired on a personal level, he remains nonetheless one of the most dramatic and puzzling figures to ever enter the bullring.

Miguelin by Juan Jose Tellez

A look at the late matador, known for his suicidal style, his return various gorings and his career. Miguelin also starred in the Francesco Rossi film The Moment of Truth in the 1960s and was, for a while, a true torero de cartel. Not everyone liked his unrefined style, but everyone respected him. The book seeks to explore beneath the surface, into the personality and mindset of this often puizzling matador. The cover in itself points to Miguelin's sometimes unconventional behavior, showing him with his arm around a docile fighting bull in madrid, wearing a dress suit and tie rather than the suit of lights. This incident evolved from a disopute where supposedly, politics within the bullfight was costing him bookings and in protest, he jumped into the ring to discredit Cordobes, the hero of the Madrid empresa. He walked up to the bull and threw his arm around it, while the animal looked stupified, shouting into the stands, something to the effect of "This is not a bull ... this is a lamb!"

Francisco Rivera Ordonez-Torero by Lola Crespo

A work devoted to Francisco Rivera Ordonez, from the famous family bloodline. This charismatic torero made a name for himself in the 2000s. This book pays tribute to him in due form and is a worthwhile addition to any taurine library, rather than just for supporters of this particular torero.

Lances De Garrocha by Carlos L. Lezaur

A small book dealing with the act of tipping bulls, so to speak, on the ranches in order to test their bravery and breeding. This is a subject not dealt with very often in print and may be more for the die-hards, rather than the casual aficionado. The book is short, only 119 pages, but then how much can you really say about the topic?

Rafael El Gallo by Francisco Narbona

There have been many books over the decades written about the legendary Rafael El Gallo, most notably the book by Enrique Villa long ago. This work, distributed by Egartorre, offers yet another look at one of bullfighting's most complex characters. A strange and superstitious man, he could demonstrate moments of grace and bravery second to none, yet at other times, be booed out of the bullring thanks to equally fenzied displays of terror. He was known for refusing to face bulls because of the way they looked at him or due to ill omens in the air, yet when he conquered his fear, could be one of the best of the best. This book pays fitting tribute to this odd and controversial figure from la fiesta brava.

Cantinflas-Torero by Rolando Rodriguez

Interesting book on the life of Cantinflas, better known to the American audience at large for his role as the sidekick to David Niven in Around the World in Eighty Days. In reality, Cantiflas was an actor, amateur bullfighter, comic torero (perhaps the greatest ever) and bullbreeder, a man of many talents, as this piece of work dwells upon. "The business of the bulls is a very serious thing..." commented Manolete long ago, but not everyone saw it or sees it in that light. Cantinflas had a massive fan following in his day and since his passing away from lung cancer serveral years ago, his videos survive him. Sadly, some of his greatest comic performances on film have never been released into English, while some of his worst, most notably a film called Pepe, in which he is seen doing his comic bullfight routine at the start, is among the ones that made it to America. The book is well worth examining.

Tapeando Por Sevilla by J. Antonio Garmendia

Released in 1998, this is a small booklet which offers a guide to the many tapas bars in Sevilla, Spain, and while it is a bit dated, it includes some interesting photos. The small book offers a number of listings for bullfighting bars and notes which ones have "taurine atmosphere" or decorations within. The names of some of these bars, like Sol Y Sombra, would be a dead giveaway to most aficionados, but other bars with material that make them virtual bullfighting museums carry names with no hint of the displays inside. Thus the book is worthwhile to aficionados visiting this old city, and since many of these bars tend to be around for decades, the 1998 publication date is not really a major concern.

Love Verses in Life by Matt Carney

Not a bullfighting book, but interesting perhaps to bullring fans because it was written by the late bullfighting author and bullrunning icon Matt Carney. Even more oddly, the particularly profane and rugged Carney had created this poetry book, showing an articulate, literate, sensitive side to him few were aware of. The book, released a few years before Carney died of throat cancer, is now somewhat hard to find. An odd creation for the man who, among other things, owes a claim to fame for saying "F--- you, Ernest Hemingway," to his face, when both were in a bar in Pamplona together and got invovled in a shouting match.

Toros Que Han Hecho Historia, 1991-2002 by Julian Agualla Lopez

Manolete, Bienvenida, Joselito, Granero, Manolo Martinez, El Juli, Joselillo, Eduardo Liceaga, Paquirri, Yiyo, Cordobes, and even the relatively obscure American matador Harper Lee. Books on matadores abound. In alarming disproportion, very little is out there on the other key player in the art form, without whom no corrida could take place. This of course is the brave bull. In this particular book, the noble animal is dealt with respectfully, with admiration and full homage due. Listing numerous animals who were sacrificed for la fiesta or in some cases had their lives spared due to extreme bravery, such a production is long past due. The book is filled with the names and breeding data of "Celebrity Bulls" (and I bet critics of the bullfight never knew they existed.) There are also loads of magnificent photographs showing the best of the breed in action against various matadores who triumphed with them. The toristas (those who go to the bullfight and place emphasis on the bull) will be delighted with this project, though there is enough focus on the men to satisfy the "toreristas" (those who go to see the bullfighters, with little thought given to the bull) as well. Granted, there have been other books out there from time to time, dealing with the bulls. The late Filiberto Mira did one several years ago and the Cossio editions always had data on the ranches as well as some notable bulls. Likewise the late Angus McNab covered bulls more than men in his Fighting Bulls and a French photographer turned out an "artistic" work titled Toros Muertos, which horrified animal lovers when they learned it was a conglomration of shots taken of animals felled by the sword. All of these, however good they might have been, focus on the past and the times in which they were written. There has been nothing in relatively modern time to cover the bull, until now. This book does a worthwhile job and is well worth ordering. Information on it is available by sending an e-mail to for pricing and ordering info outside Spain. If you are lucky enough to live in Spain and are logging on to this site, you might be able to find it in some big stores as well. Any way you can get it, if you are a lover of the brave bulls, this is the book for you.

La Dinastia Bienvenida & Manolete by Fernando Del Arco De Izco

One of the many bullfight books released by Egartorre in Spain ( for info.) This book deals with the Rodriguez (Manolete) and Mejias (Bienvenida) families, two of the most famous dynasties of all the history of the bullring. There are also some splendid old photographs, particularly of Manolo "Papa Negro" who founded the Bienvenidas. Curiously two members of these families became legendary, these being Antonio Bienvenida and Manuel Rodriguez "Manolete," both of whom died practicing their art. Manolete was killed in Linares, Spain, in 1947 from a goring in the groin. Antonio Bienvenida, who survived many near-fatal gorings, died decades later while on a ranch. With his back to the toril, an animal was released prematuraly and he turned just in time to see it slam into him, breaking his neck. While much has been written concerning Antonio, less has been said about his brothers, all of whom were equally talented, especially with the banderillas. This book finally does them justice. Well worth a look for history buffs. Even those who do not speak Spanish will enjoy the photographs and data which is easy to understand with a minimal familiarity with the language. There are also some color illustrations of old carteles and artwork.

El Signo De La Fiesta by Ramon Macias Mora

One of the many books distributed by Egartorre out of Spain, this one a decent behind the scenes type book dealing with themes for the more serious aficionado. There's some unusual stuff you don't see everyplace, such as lyrics to several pasodobles, plus an outstanding photo gallery. Shots include Lorenzo Garza, Panciano Diaz, El Cordobes, El Soldado and others, some in color and some in black and white. An interesting read, though maybe not for everyone. There is also a great cover shot of a torero getting dressed before the corrida, which makes for one of the most interesting covers around.

Sombra Sin Sol by Francisco Lerdo De Tejada

An interesting novel, better than most, in the tradition of Blood & Sand or Currito De La Cruz, the main difference being this one coming out of Mexico by Ediciones Urus in the early 1970s. Even more surprising, with all the garbage films with bullfighting as a subtheme, which were made in this time span, is the fact nobody made this, a decent novel, into a film. The rise and fall of the bullfighter, the ego trips, the temptations, blah, blah, blah. It's all here, but better than many similar novels.

El Signo De La Fietsa by Ramon Macias Mora

One of the many books distributed by Egartorre out of Spain, this one a decent behind the scenes type book dealing with themes for the more serious aficionado. There's some unusual stuff you don't see everyplace, such as lyrics to several pasodobles, plus an outstanding photo gallery. Shots include Lorenzo Garza, Panciano Diaz, El Cordobes, El Soldado, and others, some in color and some in black and white. An interesting read, though maybe not for everyone. There is also a great cover shot of a torero getting dressed before the corrida, which makes for one of the most interesting covers around.

Sombra Sin Sol by Francisco Lerdo De Tejada

An interesting novel, better than most, in the tradition of Blood & Sand or Currito De La Cruz, the main difference being this one coming out of Mexico by Ediciones Urus in the early 1970s. Even more surprising, with all the garbage films with bullfighting as a subtheme which were made in this time span, is the fact nobody made this, a decent novel, into a film. The rise and fall of the bullfighter, the ego trips, the temptations, blah, blah, blah. It's all here, but better than many similar novels.

Anuario Taurino De Mexico 1993 by Variosos

Multiple writers and photographers contributed to this, one of the better of an annual series of books covering respective temporadas in mexico, put out in a series. Some interesting articles, statistics for the entire bullfighting season, profiles of past toreros such as Canitas, Manolo Martinez, Finito, Pepe Ortiz, Antonio Del Olivar, and others, plus other items. This is a large and costly book, but well worth the price due to the wealth of information within. As stated, there are several other editions from seperate years and temporadas, but this remains one of the best of the lot. There is also a chilling photo of Alberto Bricio receiving the bull on his knees in Guadalajara just seconds before taking a fatal goring and a lengthy account of his death.

La Tarantula by Don isdro De V+++

One of those 1970 era "dirty books" or erotic novels does nothing for the dignity of the bullfight, and might be viewed by those not expressedly insulted by sexual material for the laughs, as this has to be one of the most ignorant novels ever written. The story involves a young girl who "like a tarantula," bites and poisons her lovers during the sex act. (No one bothered to tell the writer tarantulas are not poisonous.) One of the girl's victims is a matador named El Gallo. Let's leave it at that. If you like erotica, this may be worth adding to your collection. If you are a serious bullfight fan, do not even bother. If you want a good laugh at one of the most ridiculous tales ever cranked out with a bullfight thread running through it, then maybe it will be worth a glance. The publicity tagline makes the book sound like the product of a reincarnated Marquis de Sade claiming, "Clearly the work of a half-crazed don..." Sure it was!

Dancing Alone in Mexico by Ron Butler

This release by the University of Arizona Press doesn't imply much in regard to bullfighting by the title, but there is an ample amount of material here to keep any aficionado happy. The author places focus on Nogales where he was a regular visitor over the years, a friend to matador Diego O'Bolger and an avid supporter of the De La Fuente's promotion. It is sad to read this book and look at Nogales now (2004) with the glamorous old bullring slowly decaying and the bullfights being run less and less. The author writes with a great feeling for the border bullfighting atmosphere and for border town individuality. Worth a look.

Death in the Afternoon by Ernest Hemingway

In spite of some technical flaws, this was perhaps the first great guidebook written in English about bullfighting. Though dated, it remains a great historical piece due to its impact on the English speaking world, as well as for the magnificent set of illustrations. The photos of El Gallo, Joselito, Granero, Chicuelo, Belmonte, Luis Freg, and others remain spectacular. Hemingway's fixation with death comes through more here than ever, especially when dealing with the fatal goring of Gitanillo De Triana and the long bout Maera had with TB before dying. Still easy to find after all these decades, too, so how many other books can boast such a survival rate? The book has outlived the author and every matador dealt with in the text.

Julian Sainz "Saleri II"-As En La Edad De Oro Del Toreo by J. Fernandez

Another interesting Egartorre release, this one on the journeyman torero Saleri II in what has to be the most complete biographical piece ever written about him. Some fine photos, which is a trademark of Egartorre productions, also adorn the text.

Florentino Ballesteros by Enrique Asin

An interesting book by Egartorre Publishing in Madrid on the life and death of the ill-fated Florentino Ballesteros, killed in 1917 from a masssive goring in the lung while performing with the big capote. There is also lengthy tribute to his rival, Jaime Ballesteros "Herrerin" (no relation), who died a short time beforehand. Like the unlucky pair, Esteban Garcia and Carmelo Perez in Mexico, this duo likewise shared both triumph and death from the horns. Some fine photos are in the text as well.

The Man With No Shadow by Stephen Marlowe

Dated by today's standards but a great thriller in its day, revolving around a retired matador who is blackmailed into a plot to kill Generalisimo Franco. In the end, the matador reveals his plot to Franco, gets killed by a bull, the criminals get caught, and one of them dies an ironic end as the book concludes. Many tense moments within the text and some genuine twists in the plot, with the bullfight as a background, enough to make it interesting to aficionados everywhere, even now.

A Thousand Afternoons by Peter Haining

A popular book, now long out of print and in demand by collectors simply because it is now fairly hard to find in the USA, this product was edited, rather than authored, by Peter Haining. As a compiling of works by other authors, the text gives a decent glimpse into the philosophy of the bullfight, but gets confusing at times too, leading one to wonder what the overall point the editor is trying to make might be. Some might conclude he just wanted to jump upon the bullfighting craze sweeping the southwest at the time and the demand for books in the English language. Rex Smith handled the concept of compiling edited works together much better in Biography of the Bulls. On the dusk jacket, however, there is a magnificent photo of Joselito Huerta citing with the sword. Sadly, the text doesn't live up to the great jacket cover.

Bullfighting in Nogales by Dick Frontain

A small book depicting the change in hands from Pedro Gonzalez to the De la Fuente family, concerning the Nogales bullring, in the early 1960s. The book offers a profile of the first temporada the De la Fuentes put together, as well as magnificent photos. In either print and/or illustration, Finito, Emilio Rodriguez, Jesus Cordoba, Charro Gomez, El Nayarit, Antonio Del Olivar, Felix Briones, Juan Galvez, John Fulton, Antonio Velazquez, and the celebrated picador TinTan all have their place here. A great little book for historians or those interested in border bullfighting.

El Cordobes by Lyn Sherwood

Not a book in the true sense of the word, but a magazine-type promotional publication with brief explanatory text and a number of photos taken by Lyn Sherwood, depicting El Cordobes in Tijuana. The book was then sold at a number of bullrings, before and during future corridas in which Cordobes was to perform, in order to attract more fans. While tons of stuff came out on the unorthodox longhair, both during and after his career, some of the best action photos appear in this particular work. Other books have far more detail about him, but the pictures were used to draw people to the corridas and it evidently worked. Some magnificent shots of Cordobes working with the muleta may be found here.

Shadow of a Bull by Maia Wojciechowska

An interesting novel about the young son of a famous matador who was killed in the ring. The aficionados, the townspeople, and all those around him, try to force him into the bullring and follow in his father's footsteps. He is torn between the conflict of wanting to fight bulls and wanting to be a doctor. Geared toward children, but interesting enough for adults, it's surprising this was never made into a movie, though there was a record/LP version created for schools in the late 1960s. In the end, the boy faces a bull on a ranch, makes a few passes, then turns the muleta over to a friend who desires to be a figura. Thus everyone ends up happy. A new bullfighter is born, the torero's son becomes a doctor, and all is right with the world.

Guia Tauromacico by Fernando Dos Santos

A multi-lingual book explaining the bullfight in Portugal and elsewhere, written by retired matador, Fernando Dos Santos (see the gallery on this site.) A great number of photos depicting Dos Santos, as could be expected, plus other rejoneadores, forcados, and toreros on foot. Portuguese bullfighting has been shamefully neglected by the mainstream, both on the Net and in book form. This project does it some justice. There is one magnificent shot depicting the matador/author receiving a near-fatal goring in the neck, in Nogales, Mexico (the torero was evidently proud of this goring and surviving it. Tales tell of him showing off the scar to whoever he could interest.)

La Maestranza by Manuel Priego

A small book published in Spain in the early 1980s, this offers a short history of the Maestranza bullring in Sevilla. There's a handful of photos and loads of information concerning the triumphs and tragedies of this famous plaza de toros. Other, larger books have done it better, but this one has its moments.

Two Hearts, One Sword by Fred Renk

An interesting account of Fred Renk's attempts to make it as a novillero in the 1960s, followed by his drive to help his son, David, become a matador de toros. This book is an up and down rollercoaster of a ride, with some great triumphs and some truly tragic episodes. David, of course, started out in a blaze of glory as a novillero, but alter taking the alternativa and a disaster of a confirmation in Mexico City, he was hit hard by the inside politics so many "extranjeros" encounter in la fiesta brava. There's a great sketch to illustrate the cover and some good photos to be seen within, though some others did not reproduce well. This book would make a good movie someplace.

Cronicas De Sangre by Pepe Alameda

One of Mexico's most celebrated bullfighting commentators and authors created this book some years ago with a similar theme to Cornadas by Jaime Palacios. In this book, there are numerous accounts of gorings, fatal and nonfatal alike, along with some fairly graphic photos of horn wounds, dead toreros resting in coffins, and funerals. Joaquin Camino, Felix Guzman, Pascual Marquez, Manolete, Pepe Mata, Joselito, Joselillo, Ernesto Pastor, and so on are all here, plus a host of others. The cover shows a particularly noteworthy photo of Manuel Granero being killed in Madrid in 1922, spinning on the horn when a pase de la muerte went bad. Knocked on his back just seconds later, the horn then went into his eye and brain, killing him on the spot. One criticism, however, for books along this Death in the Afternoon line. This project and others covers many of the famous toreros, but sadly ignores so many lesser known victims of the bulls. There is a list of fatalities, noting Angel Soria, Tito, Tomas Peribanez, Ricardo Sanchez, Roberto Cantu, Tigre, Chofer, Luis Vilma, Bienvenida Chico, Meco, Antonio Carpio, Gil Chacon, Manolo Garridos Cortes, Regional, Miguel Casielles, Luis Alonso, and others, but no specifics concerning their gorings. It might have been more interesting to have less focus on the routine and a little more deotion to these unknowns, remembered only as victims of the horns.

How to Fight a Bull by Barnaby Conrad

Conrad rehashes a lot of his past material on Belmonte, Arruza, Manolete, and the like, but there are some new topics as well. The first portion of the project gives basic instructions on how to fight a bull and ensure any wannabe practico some chance of survival, even when facing a calf. The rest of the book goes into the Conrad routine, covering Manolete, Arruza, and others as aforementioned. There are of course some variations, like the story of Maera, borrowed hevaily from Death in the Afternoon and the author's tale of a near fatal goring at a ranch. One curious flaw, to nitpick. The author notes that as he was recovering from the goring he received in a capea, he notes the novillero Morenito De Cuenca was brought in with a goring very much like his own, only to have less luck and die from the injury. Author's creativity perhaps, or perhaps just misinformation. Morenito De Cuenca was indeed injured on a ranch like Conrad and died later in Madrid, but it was from a broken neck, not a goring!

Meet the Border Bullfighters by Dale Pierce

A small booklet of some twenty pages, designed mainly to sell at a string of bloodless bullfights held in the 1980s in Phoenix as well as limited distribution on the border. Printed in an edition of only 300 or so, it remains hard to find now. Biographies include Julio Dagomes, Ricardo Chibanga, Benjamin Morales, Rafaelillo, Fabian Ruiz, Curro Rivera, Alberto Galindo "Geno," Jesus Solorzano, and some others, but there are no photos to illustrate the text. Some interesting facts on these people who were big either on the border and/or in various bloodless bullfights in the west around 1985.

Torero, Torero! by Dale Pierce

A small book released in 1978, this one the author doesn't even bother to list in his credits. The thing was a comedy of errors as reportedly printed in Nogales, Mexico, the publishers unknowingly printed a rough draft rather than editing as they were supposed to. Thus there are tons of errors in the text which should have been caught, but the booklet was distributed on the border anyway. If you can get past the errors, there's some interesting data, but no photos. Cruz Florez, Manolo Martinez, Curro Rivera, Eloy Cavazos, Jesus Solorzano, El Queretano and others are featured. Run in a limited edition, copies remain all but impossible to find now.

Corrida by George Erik

An interesting little book offering the usual explanation of the bullfight, but odd in the fact it was written by an Englishman. The late George Erik was one of the key players in the big bullfighting club based in London and a respected authority on the bulls used in the ring, ranking right up there with A. McNab. There are some decent photos of the top toreros from the 1950s, plus some fool trying to pass the bull with his bare hand, kneeling on his folded capote. Said fool is seen in a second photo, just an instant afterward, getting flattened. Erik's comments concerning this torero and his effort are none too surprising.

Aficionado by Vincent Kehoe

A sister publication to Wine, Women, and Toros, though this one was out first. Much the same theme. An explanation of the bullfight, an assortment of bullfighting stories, and some great photographs in this coffeetable-type book. Curiously, some focus is on the novillero Terremoto De Malaga, in both this and the other Kehoe book. Evidently a crazed tremendista and forerunner to El Cordobes, this "Earthquake" from malaga made a fortune as a novillero than took his money and ran, quitting before taking the alternativa and/or getting killed. The photos alone are worth a look.

Bullring by Dale Pierce

A series of Twilight Zone-type horror stories surrounded around the central theme of a bullring in the fictional town of Tierra Brava, Spain, which is cursed with a "bad shadow." A matador sells his soul to the devil in return for the agreement no bull can kill him, only to be gored to death by a cow in a festival; a bullfighting doll predicts death; a mother and father take revenge on those dirty bastards they blame for the death of their novillero son by killing them and placing their body parts on display in their private bullfighting museum; an evangelist attempts to exocise the cursed bullring, with fatal results; a record of pasodobles delivers the listener into the body of past greats such as Belmonmte and Armillita; and so on. Ordering information may be found in the Mercado section of this site. Not exactly Currito De La Cruz or Blood and Sand, but unique and original works which tie together for an unexpected ending, just when you think you have it all figured out.

In the Presence of Death by Shay Oag

An English-language biography of the late figura Antonio Ordonez featuring many outstanding photos of this matador, his brothers, and his father Nino De La Palma. Written by a woman, nonetheless, an oddity in the hair-chested, macho-image-capturing world of the bulls, this book is as good as anything else out there, even better than some other biographical works on other top toreros (most notably Dominguin, about Antonio's one-time brother-in-law and so full of, well, b.s., it should be catagorized as fiction.) This book is a must for lovers of Ordonez or his legacy. Dominguin, El Cordobes, Litri, and others play minor parts in the text. There is even a rare photo of the obscure Cagancho Hijo, son of the legendary Cagancho, as he and Ordonez appeared together in a festival for the first time.

La Corrida De Toros-The Bullfight by Pedro Gonzalez

Another of the many small guidebooks released in the early 1960s to explain bullfighting to tourists crossing the border to buy liquor and subsequently see a corrida. This one is noteworthy, perhaps, because it is a work created by the old Nogales bullfight and wrestling promoter, Pedro Gonzalez, who built the old bullring predominately featured in our Nogales gallery. Nothing out of the ordinary about the booklet. Routine explanation of passes, functions, and so on, with the English language sometimes murdered in the process. Originally sold at the Nogales bullring and through the long defunct Toros magazine out of California, this small book is now very hard to find.

El Juli by F. Del Arco

One of the many bullfighting books released by Egartorre in Spain, this one is a virtual bible for supporters of El Juli, the fenomeno of the late 1990s through the 2000s. Even those unfamiliar with the Spanish language would be able to enjoy this book, due to the many photographs within, depicting the young maestro of maestros in action. For those speaking Spanish, the book offers sound documentation of the early career of this spectacular young torero, who has gone on to become an international star.

Los Toros, A Tragi-Comedy in Five Acts by Dick Frontain

Possibly one of the most creative books ever written with a bullfighting theme, author/photographer Dick Frontain offers many of his best photographs, illustrated with a quote from Shakespeare below each one. Manolete is supposed to have said, "The business of the bulls is a very serious thing," but even he would have found some humor in this piece of work. Frontain, possibly one of the best bordertown bullfighting photographers ever, demonstrates his ability here, with some truly spectacular shots. Joselito Huerta, Jesus Solorzano, Fernando Dos Santos, Tomas Abaroa, Carlos Arruza, El Cordobes, Rovira, Curro Rivera, Manolo Martinez, Raul Garcia, Adolfo Rojas, Rodolfo Palafox, Cantinflas, and Jaime Bravo are among the toreros depicted and amplified by quotes from Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, etc.

The Life and Death of a Fighting Bull by John Marks

A photographic book depicting the life of a bull from its time at the ganaderia, to a final lidea in the bullring. (With El Viti nonetheless.) Marks, who also wrote To the Bullfight and To the Bullfight Again, offered only a minimal amount of text in this creation, with photos he assembled being the main emphasis. Not a good read or viewing for animal rights activists, but a worthwhile addition to a taurine library for aficionados.

Jorge Gutierrez, Torero De Epoca by Cesar Colina

An interesting work on the career of Mexican matador Jorge Gutierrez, written oddly enough by a South American based in Venezuela. While Gutierrez appeared in many countries, it was Mexico where he offered his best performances in the 1980s, yet the matador was impressive enough where this celebrated critic/author would devote a book to him. Gutierrez, known as a master with the big capote in particular, may also be seen in the Who's Who section of this site. An informative book, of interest to Gutierrez supporters and to fans of the bullring in general.

Love Lies Bleeding by Peter Viertel

An interesting novel based on the rise of Antonio Ordonez and the fall of Luis Miguel Dominguin, during their mano a mano series made popular by Ernest Hemingway in The Dangerous Summer. The names are changed and the circumstances varied, but it is obvious what toreros the author had in mind during this dramatization, which is one of the better pieces of fiction revolviong around the bullfight. It can be a depressing read, however, especially the final few chapters.

Miracle in Sevilla by James Michener

An interesting tale of the supernatural that might well have come from the typewriter of Dale Pierce or Stephen King due to the content, rather than this celebrated author. Michener creates an interesting, even creepy tale, of a bullbreeder who laments the decline of his once glorious ranch, to the point where he makes a deal with the saints which ultimately costs him his life. During the course of the bullfight, he transports his soul from his own body into that of the bull, offers each matador a perfect chance to triumph, then leaves the bull's body just before the fatal swordthrust comes. One matador, a Gitano well-versed in the supernatural, suspects what is going on and a real duel to the death begins between this torero and the ganadero. Not your usual bullfighting novel, far from the traditions of say Currito De La Cruz, Blood and Sand, or The Brave Bulls.

What is Bullfighting by Diego O'Bolger

It seems like every American matador in history has to either write a book or have one written featuring them anymore, so it is none-too-startling to see Diego O'Bolger added to the list. This is a booklet, more than a book, designed to be sold at various border bullrings, with the customary explanations as to what is going on during the course of action in the corrida. It would have been more interesting had O'Bolger chosen to write an autobiography of himself, just as it might have been for John Fulton to have done so in his own book (see Bullfighting by John Fulton), rather than once again, offering the routine material about how and why things are taking place in the arena. O'Bolger was perhaps the best and most under-rated of all the US matadors (this statement is in itself arguable, but...), having great skill with the capote, banderillas, muleta and sword. It would have been far more interesting to have an indepth account of his life and times before the horns, rather than this explanatory work. As it is, there isn't much to seperate this small book from the flood of others dealing with explaining the bullfight to the novice fan, except for the fact it was written by yet another matador.

Fighting Bulls by Angus McNab

Some people are toreristas or place emphasis on the matador, while others are toristas, who place emphasis on the bull. McNab was a torista of the most fierce proportions, far more interested in the appearance and performance of the bulls, than that of the men in the ring. Thus this book was born, offering summaries of certain Madrid corridas, based on notes taken in the plaza by the author, which would have been lost to memory otherwise, a number of profiles on bull ranches, a chapter on the picador Hyena and the obligatory story of Manolete's death. Photos of Bienvenida, the Dominguin brothers, Rafael Lorente, and others also adorn the text, which is not heavily illustrated.

Swords of Spain by Robert Daley

An account of bullfighting and bullfighters in Spain during the mid-1960s. Some truly outstanding photos, along with some not-so-good ones illustrate the text. Miguelin, Bienvenida, the Giron brothers, Cordobes, Curro Romero, El Viti, Luis Segura, Gregorio Sanchez, Paco Camino, Diego Puerta, Pedres, and so on are all here. The book offers an interesting look at a long-gone era now. How funny then, what predictions people made and how things worked out in the end. In the 1960s, many expected Cordobes or Miguelin to be killed in the ring, which never happened, while the legendary Bienvenida did die, killed by a cow on a ranch. There is also an interesting chapter on jaime Ostos and his return to the ring from a major goring. Ostos, one of the bullring's finest swordsmen, by the way, had his opportunities to become a figura hampered when at the height of socialist/communist fears in Spain, he became a political hot potato, championing these causes. It all but killed off his career, something the horns couldn't do.

Wine, Women, and Toros by Vicent Kehoe

New York-based photographer Vincent Kehoe, now long deceased, wrote for several magazines and penned various books, naturally photographic in content, during the 1950s and 1960s. This work offers some fantastic shots of Ordonez, Dominguin, Chamaco, Pedres, and the like, plus a visual documentary of the alternativa of Manolo Segura (A torero from Valencia who showed great promise as a novillero, but did not duplicate this success as a matador de toros. His brother, Luis Segura, incidently, died in the bullring, not from a goring, but a fatal heart attack.) The text deals with Spanish culture and not just the professional bullfight itself, offering a look at flamenco, wine, bullfighting museums, pasodobles and capeas. A big and beautifully organized book, some of these photos are truly spectacular to behold, even now, decades after the project saw print.

Ah Ha, Toro by Ted De Grazia

While the late Ted De Grazia was known for his paintings depicting Native American scenes and children, he also attended several bullfights in Nogales, Mexico, an hour south of his Tucson, Arizona studios. As such, he made many bullfighting paintings, using the same unique style as with his Indian series. Some of these works were published in this book, which unlike other publications featuring De Grazia, remains somewhat difficult to find. While an appreciation of the artist's style varies from fan to fan and critic to critic, the book was well received in its time. Several of the paintings in the text have also been made available as prints or reproductions, especially in Arizona, where numerous gift shops carry them.

Bullfighting by John Fulton

An interesting descriptive book on the phases of the bullfight, as told by the late matador/painter/author John Fulton. Naturally, copies of his paintings and the bulk of the photographs used to illustrate the text show him in action. This is understandable, as when the project was first published, Fulton was still an active matador who did many book signings in conjunction with bordertown corridas, one notable event being in El Paso/Juarez in April of 1979. Fulton defied the odds, and while he was never allowed to confirm his alternativa in Mexico City, a goal he sought after throughout his life, he did confirm the ritual in Madrid, and while the result was less than spectacular, he at least made the paseo there, the same of which cannot be said for other American counterparts such as David Renk or Dennis Borba. In truth, an outright autobiography rather than the partial one here (Fulton throws in high and low points of his own career throughout the text, as he explains the bullfight to readers) might have been more interesting to seasoned aficionados than the explanatory work he chose to create, but for all it is worth, the book stands out as one of the better of many "guides" existing today.

Carlos Arruza, The Golden Years by Dick Frontain

This small book, released shortly after the death of Carlos Arruza in a car crash in 1966, is made up mainly of photographs, paying tribute through images to the ill-fated matador. The text covers Arruza's retirement as a matador on foot, and his subsequent return to the bullring as a rejoneador, up to the fatal wreck which took his life. Frontain and the other contributing photographers put together an impressive work here. One sidenote. For anyone who thinks Arruza never showed fear, there is one photo showing him in Nogales, getting tossed, with the bull coming straight at him. The look of utter terror on Arruza's face is truly penetrating. This might well be the only picture of him ever showing panic, though one can hardly blame him with that horned beast barreling down on him. Like many of Frontain's books and booklets, this one is fairly hard to find, though copies crop up on the Net from time to time and still survive in many southwestern libraries. Several years later, Frontain followed this project up with his more elaborate We Remember Carlos Arruza, Torero.

El Cordobes En Madrid by F. Botan, Sr. and F. Botan, Jr.

The father/son team of Madrid photographers, both now deceased, created this book in homage to El Cordobes, documenting the famous corrida in Madrid in which he confirmed his alternativa, stupidly fighting in a rainstorm that made the sands overwhlemingly dangerous and caused him to take a near-fatal goring in the intestines. This small book offers a pictorial account of this bullfight, the goring, and his subsequent return to the ring. Though the story was told in Or I'll Dress You in Mourning with much more flash and drama, this little book speaks for itself. Sadly, it is now a rare item and very hard to find.

The Gates of Fear by Barnaby Conrad

An anthology of stories related to various bullrings throughout the world, including Talavera De La Reina, Sevilla, Madrid, and other locations. As always, Conrad includes a chapter on the death of Manolete, but other tales abound as well, including various episodes in the career of Carlos Arruza, the death of Joselito, Fortuna killing a bull that escaped from a delivery truck and ran wild in the streets of Madrid, the fatal goring of Ignacio Sanchez Mejias, the misadventures of some obscure novilleros in Mexico, and so on. The book makes an interesting read, though Conrad tends to be somewhat overdramatic at times, a trademark of his in the numerous bullfight-based books he typed out from the late 1950s into the early 1970s. While a lot of his work was better received, this book isn't a bad one. They could have made due with more and better illustrations, but. . . .

The Kid Stays in the Picture by Robert Evans

This autobiographical work by actor/producer/Hollywood bad boy Robert Evans reads like a rollercoaster ride. To the bullfight lovers, however, there is a lengthy section on his work in The Sun Also Rises. The title evolves from the fact that Hemingway, Power, Albert, and all the other big wigs involved in the film did not want Evans playing Pedro Romero, but the minute shooting started, the producer remarked, "The kid stays in the picture," putting an end to the dispute. In retrospect, it becomes difficult to picture anyone but Evans playing Pedro Romero, who did so with the proper arrogance of a rising figura in all his glory. Evans told people he actually faced the bulls and was lucky to escape with his life, but in this book admits he was feeding the fans a line. Not a bullfighting book in itself, but worth a look. The autobiography was later made into a film, using the same The Kid Stays in the Picture title, which is likewise out on video and DVD at this time.

I Like You Gringo, But.... by Mario De La Fuente

A humorous philosphical piece by Nogales empreasrio Mario De La Fuente, released when he and his family still ran the bullring in this bordertown. The book covers various episodes in the author's life, from his childhod, to adulthood as a baseball player (as opposed to being a matador) and finally an empresario. The tale of his struggle to bring Spain's famous El Cordobes to his bullring is worth reading to be sure, as are other segments of this unique man's life. De la Fuente comes across as a Mexican Zorba The Greek, as one critic put it when the book first came out. There are also some very fine photographs of John Fulton, El Cordobes, El Queretano, and others featured.

Wild West Characters by Dale Pierce

Available on the Net, in various bookstores, and via Golden West Publishers (*see the Links section.) This book covers western era personalities such as Wyatt Earp, Jim Miller, Pat Garrett and crew, but also includes olden time wrestlers, boxers, and a few turn-of-the-century bullfighters as well. There is a biography of Tomas Perrando who went mad, the American matador Harper Lee, the Spanish torero Jerezano who came to Mexico seeking stardom but found death instead, and Felix Robert the Frenchman who promoted bullfighting in Juarez prior to the Mexican revolution. Some rare photos as well, and a worthwhile addition to any taurine library, though not entirely a bullfighting book by any means.

Matador by Barnaby Conrad

Based on the death of Manolete, with names and locations changed, this is the story of "Pacote" and his retirement fight, in which he is destroyed by his own myth, an aspiring newcomer, a bad love life, a need to triumph as a final fairwell to the bullring, and of course, a fatal goring. Like Luis Bello in The Brave Bulls, Pacote cuts a hoof, (in Sevilla nonetheless) but unlike Bello, does not get to live to take a vuelta with the leg in his hand. Killing as he dies and dying as he kills, he catches a groin wound, as did the ill-fated Manolete, going out in a blaze of glory. In all, the novel has many strong points, which made it well-received, even by those with a minimum understanding of la fiesta, when it was first released in the 1950s. Still a good read today. No connection to the Pedro Almandovar film of the same title.

The Brave Bulls by Tom Lea

Another classic piece of bullfighting fiction, this story by southwestern author/artist Tom Lea, offers the story of Luis and Pepe Bello, two matador brothers. The former loses his nerve and nearly his figura status following a goring, while his younger brother, forever in the shadows, struggles to gain respect. For Luis, life becomes a death magnet, as everyone around him dies in one tragedy or another. Finally, in a small Mexican pueblo, with nothing left to lose, he regains his courage and gives a hoof winning faena to an ugly, but brave bull which because of its appearance, could never have been used in a major plaza. Likewise, the younger brother triumphs and they "walk to the oil cloth" together, promising each other they will "live forever" and "both get rich." Okay, so we have a fairly happy ending here and neither matador dies in the ring, as most readers might be led to expect. The book was also made into a film starring Mel Ferrar and Anthony Quinn, but unlike the novel it was based on, remains hard to find.

The Wounds of Hunger by Luis Spota

Perhaps one of the most grim bullfighting books ever written and translated into numerous languages, this novel tells the story of an aspiring novillero and his manager as they try to climb the ranks of la vida taurina. The bribed critics, homosexual managers, corrupt promoters, small town capea organizers, and indifferent figuras (with the exception of Lorenzo Garza, a real-life matador who makes an appearance in the pages and finally helps the young man, giving the story a happy ending) all add up to expose the dark underside of the bullfight which aficionados seldom see. The hero of the text gets gored, gets jailed, gets stabbed in the back by practically everyone he befriends but in the end, manages to start making a name for himself, justifying everything he goes through beforehand. In real life, however, the world of the bulls was and still is a very corrupt, political place at times. The happy endings sadly do not always take place, as in this classic bullfighting novel.

Cornadas by Jaime R. Palacios

The definive book on gorings, both fatal and non-fatal, rivaled perhaps by Pepe Alemeda's Cronica de Sangre and nothing else. The fatal injuries to Manolete, Joselito, Jose Hernandez Rios "El Chato," Ernesto Pastor, Miguel Freg, Eduardo Liceaga, Esteban Garcia, Joselillo, Raul Basso, Pepe Hillo, Espartero, Ignachio Sanchez Mejias, Varelito, Paco Pavon, and others are all dealt with at length here, often with extremely disturbing photographs. There are also chapters devoted to the non-fatal gorings of Antonio Lomelin, Calesero, Manolo Urena, Paco Camino, Antonio Velazquez, Antonio Bienvenida, and others who were, by a mere stroke of luck, able to recover when the aforenoted victims of their profession did not. The book serves as a chilling reminder of the dark underside of la fiesta brava, pointing out in grim detail that no matter how big the triumph, how loud the band, or how riotous the cheers, death is never very far off.

Variety International Film Guide 1999 by Peter Cowie (editor)

Not a book you'll find in everyone's taurine library, but one many people would overlook due to the title. This product offers one of the best biographies of Spanish film director Pedro Almodovar, selected for this year's issue as Director of the Year. Reviled by some, loved by others, this man was the one behind the 1980s release of Matador, a full account of which appears in the text as well. Though bullfighting fans tended to deplore the flick, and the fiesta was only a minor subplot, this dark comedy became a cult classic (interesting also as it offers a relatively unknown Antonio Banderas, not in his familiar macho man role, but as a wimpish closet queen, a novillero who faints at the site of blood....again reminding people this is a comedy). Still, for those interested, it is worth a look.

Play me the Song of Death by Dale Pierce

A horror story with a bullfighting subtheme, definately different from most things done before or since. Blood and Sand it isn't. A group of Americans rent the home of Jaime Sublaran, a devil-worshipping bullfighter killed long before in the ring, and predictably evil things start to happen. As one of the lead characters, Phil Catron, starts researching the life and times of the ill-fated Sublaran, those he interviews end up dying. Then the killings start within his own family. Has Sublaran returned from the grave? Is someone else doing these killings? The last chapter in the book is absolutely terrifying for just when you think the truth is revealed, you get thrown a curve ball, and all is not as it seems. The book was also released in France in the 1980s under the title of Le Sang Du Matador, while reportedly negotiations are going underway (late 2003) to finally see Spanish and Portuguese releases, after years of procrastination. If so, the book may finally get the recognition it deserves, though admittedly a piece of work for the general public and not just aficionados. Copies of the book are still being sold at certain border bullrings, through book services on the net, and orderable from the author at directly. Eventually the supply of English language editions will run out, but then there may be a reissue.

How to Enjoy a Bullfight by Dick Frontain

Though dated (published in 1966, the toreros spoken of are all retired or dead), this book nonetheless remains one of the simplest and best guides ever when following the goings-on at a bullfight. It is a particularly valuable tool, even for the modern audience, when one wants to learn why things are done in the bullring, what to look for during the course of the corrida, and the names of the various passes. Granted, many books of this type have seen print, before and since, all with their particular merits, but Frontain's work has a simplistic, grass-roots way of mapping out the bullfight for those who otherwise wouldn't have a clue.

To the longtime aficionado who already knows the names of the muletazos, the way of things, and all the basics, this book still has merit, as Frontain has long been regarded as one of the best of the American bullfighting photographers. Some of the shots in this project are worth the price alone, if you can find it on Ebay or in a used book store. His stills of Carlos Arruza, El Cordobes, Felix Briones, Calesero, Alfredo Leal, Joselito De Colombia, Jesus Cordoba, Cantinfals, Tomas Abaroa, Antonio Velazquez, Pablo Lozano, and others are some of the best ever published. Most of these photos were taken in Nogales in the late 1950s through the early 1960s, the bullring closest to Frontain's Tucson, Arizona homebase.

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