In March 1847, the U.S. Navy delivers 8,000 soldiers on the beaches of Vera Cruz. They are led by the army's commanding general, Winfield Scott, a heroic veteran. At his right hand is Robert E. Lee, a 40-year-old engineer who has never seen combat. Scott leads his troops against the imperious Mexican dictator, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. It becomes clear that the final conflict will occur at the gates and fortified walls of the ancient capital, Mexico City. Cut off from communication and their only supply line, the Americans learn about their enemy, themselves, and the horror of war. While Scott must weigh his own place in history, fighting what many consider a bully's war, Lee becomes a hero.
©2000 Jeffrey M. Shaara; (P)2000 Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio Publishing, A Division of Random House, Inc.
"Brilliant does not even begin to describe the Shaara gift. Thank Gods and Generals that it was passed from father to son." (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
I bought this recording because I wanted to learn about the history of the Mexican American War and though I was unfamiliar with Jeff Shara's work, I was aware that he wrote Civil War books one of which The Killer Angels was a basis for a movie.
The narrator did a fine job but the book was not at all what I expected.
It is essentially fictional dialogue by a few characters who figure later in the Civil War - mostly Lee, Winfield Scott and Grant. There is also dialogue by General Santa Anna.
The story is slow paced and tedious. Absolutely none of the dialogue rings true. You never for a second believe you are hearing the real conversations of soldiers at war. The dialogue reads like a 1960s TV show (say Bonanza) with each character taking on their own virtuous persona (for example - Lee humble, Scott wise but vainglorious). Santa Anna is portrayed like a stereotypical bad character like from a an old Zorro TV show.
The worse part was that the story lacks any rich detail about the daily lives and activities of the participants that would be the fruit of some solid research. What did the soldiers eat? According to Shara - "rations", what type of weapons were the two sides equipped with?
According to Shara "muskets". How did the artillery battery get a heavy field piece and munitions to a top of a mountain to engage the Mexicans? Answer: "a rope".
In the Hornblower series, C.S. Forester - a much more competent writer describes how the English moved artillery from a ship to the top of a mountain. He got into detail about the rigging of blocks and tackles and use of levers. He describes how the sailors were tasked with each carrying one cannon ball. It is the details that make a history come alive.
I felt Gone for Soldiers was a waste of time.
Poorly written prose that could have been written by a 10 grader. If you're looking for drivel to read on an airplane ride, I guess this would be acceptable. I didn't believe the characterization of Lee at all. I got the impression the author was writing excessive descriptions just to fill the page, because there wasn't enough story to write about.
Something written by a better author. Maybe Doctrow, Wouk or Del Passos.
The narrator did a good job of providing different accents, even for multiple men from Virginia - he did a good job. Don't blame him for this poor story/writing.
I would have found a way to ADD more historical events - not speculate what Lee was thinking while he was hiding behind a tree. Too much filler nonsense.
Maybe the book should have been entitled, "The Filler Angels"?
Listen to about 5 hours and it stopped. Not further audio available. The file was 17 hours long, which is twice as long as audible sections. It should be in multiple parts. Got a credit for this, however I would like to see the book download fixed so I could finish it.
I wanted to learn more about the southwest and Mexican History often slanted and biased on Polk's campaign to take as much land as he could from Mexico. It is a soldier's perspective, but I found the story more of a narration and a descriptions of battles and the American's perspective of this era. The reading was slow as well. I would suggest that one listen to an excerpt before purchasing this audio book. I got to 2/3 and finally gave up. It was just too slow and I found it to be a let down of what I thought would be a historical fiction. It is a historical fiction, but it was not done interestingly for me.
This author's father could write a decent historical novel, but this effort is no evidence that Jeff Shaara can. I generally like history, but this didn't do it for me. The writing is unimaginative and predictable. I couldn't even finish it, and I try really hard to finish audiobooks I start.
The characters in this historical novel are two-dimensional at best. If you liked the old John Wayne westerns then you will enjoy this. The dialogue is reminscient of the first Star Trek series, lots of William Shatner-esque phrasing; the result is the feeling that the the character's thoughts and dialogue are just attempts to work in the real-life journals and letters of the characters. The same themes and concerns are repeated over and over again, with saint Robert E. Lee able to do no wrong, even in his thoughts. Save your audiobook credit, and get a something by Patrick O'Brian (I'd hoped this would be a land-based version of his naval historical fiction, no such luck)
I am generally interested in history. But it seemed to me that Mr. Shaara isn?t. The book's only purpose seemed to be to glorify certain individuals that later played a part in the Civil War. I thought I might learn about the Spanish American War but, resulting from the nauseating story of righteous men, I couldn?t stand to listen the whole book. Is Jeff Shaara a serious Christian who is trying to glorify the early history of our country? Not interesting.
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