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The Mexican War 1846-1848 Paperback – July 25, 2002
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The Mexican War begins with an 11-page section that lays out the background of the war. The author does make a good point in citing Mexican intransigence and American land-greed as the proximate causes of the war; he notes, "they [the Mexicans] allowed their pride to cloud their judgment of potential American military strength. The Mexican government therefore refused to negotiate..." Nature abhors a vacuum, as is said, and the vast open, sparsely populated Mexican northern territories were a great temptation to an expanding American republic. The section on opposing sides is woefully inadequate, with the equivalent of only three pages on the subject. While the author depicts the essential conditions of each country's military forces in cultural terms, he fails to provide much in the way of specifics. An order of battle for at least the two main campaigns would have been nice, but the omission of military details quickly reveals this as a watered-down account. The next section covers the actual outbreak of war on the Rio Grande and is fairly accurate. The bulk of the military campaigns are covered in the 30-page middle section.Read more ›
The book contains several battle maps, which clearly show the movements of the various forces. The maps are in color, easy to understand, and uncluttered with extraneous detail. The author also included numerous color and black & white illustrations. These illustrations are detailed and make a worthwhile contribution to the book. There are also photos and drawings of several politicians and military officers.
The book has a logical flow and each campaign is described in chronological order. In addition, the author spends time describing organizations such as the Texas Rangers and the San Patricios. The San Patricios were a group of Irish immigrants who defected to the Mexican side. Finally, the author included information on several Civil War officers, such as Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant.
The main shortcoming of this book is that its battle coverage is weak. The storming of Chapultepec Castle by the U.S. Marines should have received significant coverage. Instead, the entire battle of Mexico City, which included Chapultepec Castle, is covered in only the briefest of detail. This vague coverage was unnecessary given that the author wasted space on irrelevant topics. The chapter on "Portrait of a Civilian" covers a woman who really had nothing to do with the war.Read more ›
The book starts off by giving a vert succinct overview of the geopolitical situation (in terms of politics and international relations) of Mexico and the U.S. immediately before the war and what eventually led to the war. However, it does a poor job at describing the condition of each nation's armed forces in terms of number of men, quality of troops, equipment, morale, middle range officer corps and military leadership at the pinnacles of both armed forces. There is no discussion of what, if any, strategies the equivalent of chiefs of staffs were planning to pursue (ie., how they were even planning on fighting the war at the beginning). Even worse, there is no discussion of the relative states of each nation's finances, economies, industrial production and population levels, the real determinants of each nation's capacity to sustain wars in the long term. On the positive side the book does adequately (but again, very succinctly) describe how the military aspects of the war played out in terms of campaigns and the geographic areas they covered. The strategic maps provide some useful perspective here but unfortunately there are no tactical maps showing how the main battles played out.
Overall I must say that it is fun and lively little book to read. The author gives enough details to generally understand the situation, and he does this quite well. The book treats both sides equally, without any "democracy has prevailed!" rhetoric, which is unwillingly expected after some exposure to the American mass media.
The cons of the book have already been covered in the previous review, although, I must add, it's not such a great deal,except for the "civilian" part, although the author covered the general condition of the civillian population in other sections.
If this book is the first (and, probalby last) thing you are going to read about this conflict, it would surely be helpful. Overall a very pleasant reading.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It is hard for me to think of a American War that truly could be justified as rightly starting the conflict in defense of the US. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Phil Historian