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A Short, Offhand, Killing Affair: Soldiers and Social Conflict during the Mexican-American War Paperback – October 7, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0807854051 ISBN-10: 0807854050 Edition: 1st

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A Short, Offhand, Killing Affair: Soldiers and Social Conflict during the Mexican-American War + Freedom Flyers: The Tuskegee Airmen of World War II (Oxford Oral History Series)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 1 edition (October 7, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807854050
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807854051
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,229,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Foos has a deep understanding of the society and politics of the U.S. Mexican War period.... This book is a criticism of the 'glories' of the volunteerism during the war." - Richard Griswold del Casillo, San Diego State University

Review

This book is well researched, and the author's arguments are frequently compelling. It helps fill an important niche.--Hispanic American Historical Review

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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on March 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
A Short, Offhand Killing Affair: Soldiers And Social Conflict During The Mexican-American War by Paul Foos (History Department, Georgia State University - Atlanta) draws directly upon diaries and letters of soldiers in the Mexican-American War (1846-48), to survey and examine a bitterly fought conflict which was to change the shape of the emerging American nation. Offering an unflinching and brutal look at the horrors of war as sufferingly experienced by rank-and-file soldiers (as well as the violent, sometimes murderous and ravaging behavior many such soldiers exacted upon the inhabitants of the territory they conquered), A Short, Offhand Killing Affair fully and dramatically reveals a ruthless and darker aspect of what came to be called America's "Manifest Destiny".
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Format: Paperback
I had occasion to look at one of Foos' sources and compare it with his account of same in his monograph. I have no doubt that the war was every bit as ugly, racist and unjust as he makes it out to be. But the tone of the account, by an engineer who was in Wool's advance party to Saltillo, is considerably less hostile to Mexicans than I had expected. The engineer doesn't sugar coat anything--he owns up to the property destruction and violence that the American forces have brought with them, but he also points out that there was considerable ambiguity in the Mexicans in the north toward the US presence, especially in those states where centralism was viewed with little sympathy. History is a subtle thing, and yet Foos displays little subtlety in his account. Gringo bad, Mexican good. I'm not going to go trawling through everything else he's used to see if this kind of distortion infects the rest of the narrative, but what I've seen doesn't inspire much confidence.
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Paul Foos earned his B.A. at U. Mass., Amherst; Ph.D. at Yale, working with David Montgomery, the labor historian. He spent several years teaching at Georgia State University. “Although the war directly affected only a small minority of the citizens of the United States, it produced storms of controversy, changed the political and social climate, and inspired decisive action and much commentary from those who served in the military or helped recruit armies for Mexico.(4) Foos uses the Mexican war as a backdrop to analyze American labor conflict during the Nineteenth century. Another aspect of his argument is that the Mexican War “is a historic moment in the creation of an American empire rather than nation, encompassing proliferating hierarchies of race and social class, establishing the basis for oligarchic rule based partly on landed wealth.” (175)

Chapter one discusses service and servitude, arguing that life for a soldier in the army was equivalent to servitude. Chapter two discusses citizen’s militias in the US at the time. Chapters three and four discuss volunteers, both true volunteers and those forced to do so. Chapter five deals with discipline and desertion, chapter six discusses atrocities and the war while chapter seven looks at the limits of the “White Man’s Democracy.” Finally, reminiscent of Eric Foner’s Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men, Foos discusses Free Soil and the “Heritage of the Citizen Soldier.” The narrative starts off with wage labor in the antebellum period and the arrival of the US army in Corpus Christi in June 1845 and concludes with the post-war United States.

Foos uses first person recollections, diaries, letters and newspapers.
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By jake on March 8, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book takes an inside look at the ugly racial war that took place in the American land grab from Mexico. Worth the read.
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