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Gone for Soldiers: A Novel of the Mexican War [Kindle Edition]

Jeff Shaara , Ballantine , Mapping Specialists Ltd.
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (210 customer reviews)

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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

In Gone for Soldiers, Jeff Shaara carries us back 15 years before the momentous conflict he has so brilliantly chronicled, to a time when the Civil War's most familiar names are fighting for another cause, junior officers marching under the same flag in an unfamiliar land, experiencing combat for the first time in the Mexican-American War.

In March 1847, 8,000 soldiers landed on the beaches of Vera Cruz, led by the army's commanding general, Winfield Scott-a heroic veteran of the War of 1812, short tempered, vain, and nostalgic for the glories of his youth. At his right hand is Robert E. Lee, a forty year-old engineer, a dignified, serious man who has never seen combat.

In vivid prose that illuminates the dark psychology of soldiers trapped behind enemy lines, Jeff Shaara brings to life the familiar characters, the stunning triumphs and soul-crushing defeats of this fascinating, long-forgotten war.

Editorial Reviews Review

Having chronicled the Civil War in Gods and Generals and The Last Full Measure, Jeff Shaara casts his eye on the earlier proving ground of the Mexican War in his third novel, Gone for Soldiers. Although it secured the Southwest for a nation emboldened by Manifest Destiny, this two-year conflict has nearly faded into oblivion, eclipsed by the subsequent domestic dispute a dozen years later. Shaara's hallmarks--the deliberations of leaders and the brutal facts of battle--illuminate his engaging diversion into an oft-overlooked struggle in which men who would come to oppose one another fought under a single flag.

The veteran major-general Winfield Scott and an upstart Robert E. Lee anchor Gone for Soldiers. Headstrong, brilliant, and generally distrustful of his less able subordinates, Scott leads the U.S. troops slowly and inevitably toward Mexico City, imparting martial lessons along the way. "The worst consequence of fighting a war is not if you lose, Mr. Lee," he sighs. "The worst thing you can do is win badly." Lee distinguishes himself throughout the campaign, his meticulous scouting and shrewd inferences winning both Scott's admiration and the jealousy of officers whose ambition surpasses their experience. Lee, too, frequently assesses his place in the hierarchy, but he--like Scott--remains more bemused than seduced by the glitter of fame.

This sympathy between the two men grows as Lee observes Scott embroiled in the distracting politics of war: officers salivating for promotion, enemies more preoccupied with saving face than lives, distant legislators issuing directives. If Gone for Soldiers occasionally bogs down during its many lengthy battle scenes, unexpected and delightful small touches arise nearly as often--the "capture" of Mexican leader Santa Anna's wooden leg or the chance encounter between Lee and a young Ulysses S. Grant. Duty-bound and humble, Lee cultivates a perpetual stoicism. "Now we're out here in some place God may not want us to be. It's hard to believe He is happy watching us fight a war," he muses, a sobering coda to the grim calculations of victory. --Ben Guterson

From Publishers Weekly

Shaara's latest historical novel abandons the Civil War era of his two previous works, Gods and Generals and The Last Full Measure, which completed a trilogy begun by his father with the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Killer Angels. Striving this time to reimagine the Mexican-American War of 1847, Shaara paints a respectable if uneven group portrait of the men who fought south of the border. Gen. Winfield Scott--accompanied by future Confederacy leaders Robert E. Lee, George Pickett and Thomas (Stonewall) Jackson, and soon-to-be Union Army Gen. Ulysses S. Grant--lands at the port of Vera Cruz, intent on piercing straight through to the heart of Mexico and defeating General Santa Anna. Shaara is at his best when describing the all-too-real horrors of hand-to-hand combat, enveloping the reader in the sounds, smells and realities of battlefield carnage. "Now, when a man dies by your side, you don't expect the man who replaces him to survive either, you don't even want to learn his name. And now, when you march into the guns, you accept that this time it might be you, as if it's already decided." The author sometimes tries to hard to distinguish his characters by their traits, interjecting superfluous details verging on caricature, such as Scott's distaste for veal. "Try never to eat the stuff... Horrible, barbaric. Baby cows." However, a scene describing the delayed hanging of a group of American deserters so that they may watch and cheer the raising of the Stars and Stripes over the castle of Chapultepec is gripping and all too believable. Though the stilted, "in the mind of the soldier" narrative becomes a wearisome contrivance at times, the action scenes are fluid and compelling. 15-city author tour; Random House Large Print, BDD Audio. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 5214 KB
  • Print Length: 448 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0345427513
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st edition (September 1, 2000)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC1ICW
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,235 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
82 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Effort! May 10, 2000
By Draegen
Having brought the Civil War to life through his continuation of his father's classic, "The Killer Angels," Jeff Shaara has now ressurected one of America's most forgotten wars, the Mexican War.
In his latest novel, Mr. Shaara introduces us to many of the Civil War's greatest leaders as they learn their craft under fire in Mexico. The book follows the exploits and deeds of one General Winfield Scott as he leads the campaign to defeat Santa Anna's army.
At his side is a young engineer, Capt. Robert E. Lee. Shaara's portrayal of Lee as a young officer, unsure of his untested abilities and his place in the command structure, is truly wonderful. It is a whole different Lee than the polished General of the Civil War. With each new mission Scott assigns him, we can see Lee grow and mature as an officer.
Many of the other men who would later become Generals are also with Lee in Mexico, Grant, Jackson, Meade, Johnston, Pickett, Longstreet, albeit as Lieutenants. They are not given the same in depth treatment as Lee, but already you can see their abilities developing for command.
General Scott and Santa Anna are also portrayed in manners rarely seen. Few modern Americans have heard of Scott, which is a shame since he was one of the best Generals in our early history. Santa Anna is usually mentioned only in conjunction with the Alamo, but here he is given a very fair treatment.
Overall I would say this book is every bit as good as the Shaaras' works on the Civil War. Once again Jeff Shaara has restored life to a long dead period of our nation's history.
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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The pre-quel to the Shaara Civil War Series May 17, 2000
Jeff Shaara is a fine craftsman, as is reflected in this account of the Mexican War as seen by men who figured prominently in the Civil War.
This work, while not strictly history, is valuable for the attention it brings to the Mexican-American War. That war is not often discussed and seems to be consistently misunderstood.
My criticism of the book is stylistic, and is admittedly that of one who "criticizes" rather than "does:" the internal monologues of many of the characters have a sameness of tone and orientation. I found that Robert E. Lee sounds a lot like Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain in later Shaara novels. The lack of differentiation in "voice" is the novel's most obvious flaw.
On the plus side is any sort of insight into R.E. Lee before he became a mythic figure in American history. Shaara's view of Lee in his formative combat experience is well thought out, the problem of "voice" notwithstanding. Also appealing is the reminder and image of Lee fighting under the Stars and Stripes.
Well-illustrated with battle maps, this is an easy and enjoyable read.
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Son Also Rises May 5, 2000
I first fell in love with The Civil War period when I was a girl reading The Killer Angels. Since then, I have read MANY historical novels of this period, and as a literature teacher, literally thousands of many historical periods and cultures. Jeff Shaara continues in his father's tradition but with more heart. I not only enjoy his books for myself, but have watched as my students have become hooked, as well. One of my students' favorite assignments is contrasting the Shaara view of war with Crane's. Shaara's language is accessible to all readers and his characters believable and sensitive. They are no longer vague names in some history text. They come alive. I see my students really CARING about history. No longer is the North always right and the South always evil. They understand the conflicts people like Lee and Hancock felt. History is not just a series of dates to memorize for a test. It is the story of a real people; OUR people; US. Shaara makes his readers want to delve into the non-fiction to compare and contrast. They want to examine the issues and virtues that define Man. THAT is good literature, and, I would argue, its purpose. Shaara's gracious reader notes make clear that this is fiction, not intended to be taken as gospel. However, his meticulous research, solely of primary sources, lends credence to his interpretations. How wonderful to have a writer so clearly paint these people that the reader is compelled to read the diaries and letters himself!
This latest, Gone for Soldiers,is a fast-paced page-turner examining a war so often overlooked in our history. We not only meet the younger Lees, Grants and Longstreets, but also are confronted with the disturbing similiarities to Viet Nam, as well.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I liked it May 17, 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Following the approach of the 3 Civil war books, we take a ride with Robert E. Lee and Winfield Scott through the landings at Vera Cruz with the march to Chapultepec and Mexico City.
The chapter tags are mainly:
Robert E. Lee the old new captain(40 years old) immediatly shows his talent for the battle field as a scout and engineer which is immediatly recognised by Winfield Scott. You watch him perform his functions with skill and daring and yet still have moments of doubt. You watch him grow into the postion and see the makings of the future commander of the South.
Winfield Scott, ol Fuss and Feathers, comes to highly regard Lee and shows it by desiring his company more then his staff. Scott the commanding General deals with goverment politics, glory hunting divisional comanders as he tries to lead the army in a new way of combat versus the outdated principles of Napoleon. The author did a good job at trying to get his feeling for the man across. He a soldier to the core and dispises political people and the glory seekers. He can't stand his son-in-law, his adjunt, and he torments his Sargent to no end. You see him become a diplomat and is actually offered Dictatorship of Mexico. All in all you get a good introduction to one of America's best and probably most unknown generals. Much of his acomplishments were overshadowed by the Civil War. A tribute to the man is the fact that the West Point Uniforms are the uniforms Scott's troops wore in the War of 1812. Also, the Duke of Wellington called him the best soldier of his generation.
Along the way you meet other personalities.
The dark and brooding Thomas Jackson as Lee remarked "This man needs War" You get to a chapter of his famous duel with Mexican Cannons at Chapultepec.
Ulysis S.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent insightful study of the Mexican War and it's formation of...
The accurate descriptions of battle scenes and insights to the character of key players and the clear engaging writing, all very well researched, make this a must read for military... Read more
Published 5 days ago by Karl M. Schulte, CW4 (Ret)
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent book
A great depiction of the Mexican War. If you are a history buff and like the Civil War this is a good read.
Published 6 days ago by Doug Hoffman
1.0 out of 5 stars This is one of the worst written books I have ever read
This is one of the worst written books I have ever read. Very disappointing as I did like his Father's book. The writing is wooden and he frequently forgets his time period. Read more
Published 9 days ago by Benson M Stein
4.0 out of 5 stars good research, easy reading, very informative
So sad generals cannot be team players yet they can win wars - strange. Well written and a good prep for Shaara's civil war books.
Published 12 days ago by Bob Hagenberg
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great novel of a war forgotten
Published 13 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
My husband loved this book.
Published 14 days ago by Jeanne Minnick
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
thank you
Published 27 days ago by Michael D. Schulberg
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you Mr. Shaara.
Shaara gives us a vivid portrayal of a relatively obscure war and reminds us of its importance. The novel also provides interesting context for the crop of West Point generals... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Valentine Hoy
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Loved it!!!
Published 1 month ago by Gordon Fisherti
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, but.....
In my opinion, this book is not up to Shaara's ususl level of excellence. I found myself waiting for something to happen or a major character other than R.E. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Al M.
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More About the Author

Jeff Shaara is the New York Times bestselling author of The Steel Wave, The Rising Tide, To the Last Man, The Glorious Cause, Rise to Rebellion, and Gone for Soldiers, as well as Gods and Generals and The Last Full Measure-two novels that complete the Civil War trilogy that began with his father's Pulitzer Prize--winning classic The Killer Angels. Shaara was born into a family of Italian immigrants in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He grew up in Tallahassee, Florida, and graduated from Florida State University. He lives in Gettysburg.


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