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 never liked history in school. I did not realize at that time the importance of history on all of us. Besides that, history was never presented in a way that made you realize it was alive, and was formed by people who were just like us. "Gone for Soldiers" not only makes history come alive, it makes a relatively unknown period of history known to us. I remember hearing about the "Mexican War" in school - but that was it. The name of the war and some dates.
The author does a fantastic job of painting portraits of the various characters through whom the story is told. To anyone who has read any of Mr. Shaara's other works, or the work of his father, "The Killer Angels," a thread can be seen connecting each of his works through those characters, their predecessors, and their descendants.
I am indebted to Mr. Shaara to opening my eyes to this segment of American history. I would never have known about the greatness of Winfield Scott but for this book. Most other Americans do not know, either.
I recommend getting this book, either in print or audio, for the sheer educational value of it. Get it, listen to (or read) it, and get your children to listen to it. If for no other reason, get it just for the sheer entertainment value! Mr. Shaara, along with his close attention to the facts, has a remarkable literary talent. On top of that, the narrator, Jonathan Davis, reads not only with superb diction, but using different voices is able to add further brush strokes to the portrait of each historical character.
Thank you, Mr. Shaara, Mr. Davis and audible.com.
This is a must-read book. It is told through the eyes of the major players in this war: Winfield Scott, Robert E. Lee, and Santa Anna. The characters are portrayed as real people and not larger than life. The focus is on the events of the Mexican-American War and the men who accomplished them. The pre-Civil War personalities are only mentioned briefly except for Robert E. Lee and his rise to brilliance. Shaara writes a very interesting history but its accuracy is not sacrificed for entertainment. I find this lively telling of history to be more entertaining than today's best fiction writers. After reading this you will want to experience more of Shaara's work. If only Audible would release all his books in unabridged format...
Audio Addict Capt Kirk
One doesn't hear about the life experiences that helped shape the historical figure. The story gave me a better idea of where people were relative to other historical figures alive at the time. Enjoyed it.
This was my first Shaara book, and I learned why many people love him as an author. At first I almost didn't get the book because it was an period I didn't care much about. I learned that my lack of interest was really due to a lack of knowledge. I not only enjoyed learning more about a fogotten period of our history, but enjoyed learning about the early military experiences of many of the men who would later become the leaders of both sides during the civil war.
Gone for Soldiers is a must book for anyone that is interested in the civil war. It does and excellent job of describing what made good and bad soldiers. The main focuse is on Winfield Scott,(who I did not know much about) and Robert E Lee. Plus you get a look at Grant , Longstreet, Johnson and others.
It is interesting and seems to be based on facts. There is no doubt that the author feels that Scott did not get enough credit for the job he did in Mexico, and Polk is shown as doing everything for politics.
The information about how Lee and Grant got recognition is also well done and interesting.
I would recommend the book to anyone who likes a good adventure store.
The Mexican War...under taught and largely misunderstood. So, this is a compelling study and simply fascinating, with many parallels to current times. Worth every minute.
This is great compilation of the facts as they happened in 1847. These were 17 hours of great history learning. It was a time machine were I could see all the generals at their formation as so.
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"?
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