• A Wicked War

  • Polk, Clay, Lincoln and the 1846 U.S. Invasion of Mexico
  • By: Amy S. Greenberg
  • Narrated by: Caroline Shaffer
  • Length: 12 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Americas
  • 4.0 out of 5 stars (171 ratings)
adbl_ms_membershipImage_includedwith_altText_B076FLV3HT
adbl_ms_membershipImage_includedwith_altText_B076FLV3HT

1 audiobook of your choice.
Stream or download thousands of included titles.
$14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $29.95

Buy for $29.95

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

A Wicked War presents the definitive history of the 1846 war between the United States and Mexico - a conflict that turned America into a continental power. Amy Greenberg describes the battles between American and Mexican armies, but also delineates the political battles between Democrats and Whigs - the former led by the ruthless Polk, the latter by the charismatic Henry Clay and a young representative from Illinois named Abraham Lincoln. Greenberg brilliantly recounts this key chapter in the creation of the United States with authority and narrative flair.

©2012 Amy Greenberg. (P)2012 HighBridge Company

Critic Reviews

“Greenberg’s probing account of this war reveals its drama - and its very modern complexity.”( Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about A Wicked War

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    62
  • 4 Stars
    70
  • 3 Stars
    26
  • 2 Stars
    6
  • 1 Stars
    7
Performance
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    62
  • 4 Stars
    43
  • 3 Stars
    30
  • 2 Stars
    13
  • 1 Stars
    13
Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    70
  • 4 Stars
    61
  • 3 Stars
    21
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    7

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

The politics of the Mexican war

Greenberg has written a lively political history of the Mexican war and the substantial but disorganized opposition to it. Key players include Henry Clay, James K. Polk, Nicholas Trist, and Abraham Lincoln: all deftly characterized with a few well-chosen anecdotes. The military history is covered in broad strokes - for more detail on that, a better choice would be Martin Dugard's Training Ground. But if you want a clear and vivid picture of the machinations that led to the war and to its ultimate conclusion, this is the book for you.

There are obvious parallels with more recent wars, some of them opposed by many in the US, but Greenberg doesn't hit us over the head with that. Apart from a few somewhat anachronistic references to "embedded journalists," she leaves us to our own conclusions. This is political history, not politicized history.

Caroline Shaffer's narration is equally lively. At first it seemed discordantly "peppy" to me, but as I got used to her style of delivery, I realized her unflagging energy was keeping me drawn to the story. All in all, I really enjoyed it.

20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Rubbish Historical Work, Lots of Fake Stuff

First of all, look at my name, it’s Jose. I am not a historian but I do know some Latin American history. The author of this book does not know a thing about Mexico, Latin-American culture, and the Spanish Empire. Lesson #1 for Non-Latins, we Latins are not victims. The Mexican-American War was the culmination of a Tiger vs. Tiger struggle for supremacy in North America. The Mexicans and Spanish got caught in the vortex of Napoleonic/French Revolution Chaos in 1804, the USA had the more organized nation and ambitious land pirates, like Sam Houston. But it was hardly coordinated, the southwest was a total mess that culminated in the more organized nation taking control. This book has so much fake content that I don't know what can be trusted.

Basically, the author is obsessed with one side of the conflict, the USA, This book would not have been written differently if the KGB were asked to describe “Manifest Destiny” and “American Exceptionalism”. At the detail level, what Polk did is not different than Bismark taking pieces of Denmark, Austria, and France; Peter the Great taking Finland; Catherine the Great taking Crimea; and Suleiman taking Constantinople. With few exceptions, these events were true blood baths. The battle of Buena Vista is not even a skirmish when viewed on the scale of Constantinople.

Another thing, the author's obsession with 19th Century slavery is weird. Until the industrial revolution was brought to us by the English and Americans, slavery, feudalism, and serfdom was a part of human life-since day-1. Never before had slavery been unknown. Do we need to re-write history to include that Julius Cesar, Alexander, Peter the Great, Louis XV had a slave/serf body servants? How about the Soviet Gulags and Chinese labor Camps full of unpaid labor, can we re-title Stalin as a slave owner and Mao as an enslaver?

Facts that make the book fake:
(1) The Spanish had a Manifest Destiny slogan too, “The World is Not Enough” and “Further Beyond”, then they ran out of money to fight the world after the 30-Years War.
(2) How did Mexico get so big pre-1840? The answer, the territory was just loose claims from Spanish “New Spain” and they conquered every Indian tribe that had some wealth or choice farm land. But they did not control the Apaches and Comanches.
(3) The "Texans" were allowed entry by Spain not Mexico in the late 1790’s
(4) The "Texans" were allowed entry to fight Apaches and Comanches because Mexican territory south of the Rio Grande was being raided by the Comanches. They were not controlling the North. The life-span of a picnic group in old-time Tucson Arizona would have been Nil.
(5) The Mexican leaders had their own form of slavery, called encomienda and they got peasant labor through feudal right
(6) The Mexican leaders then were largely Mediterranean whites, not the people commonly understood to be Mexican (like me)
(7) Mexico fought Spain for Independence? Nope, it was a civil war of elites because Spain did not survive the Napoleonic War in Europe as an Empire. Little something called battle of Trafalgar had an influence.
(8) Mexico was not and is not a Republic; it was actually founded as the Empire of Mexico under the Emperor Inturbide
(9) The Empire “fell” due to more Civil War (French Revolution Chaos) and they eventually settled under a war lord named Santana during the Texas independence conflict, then had more Civil War afterwards.
(10) What were the Mexican Civil Wars about? Other than to see who is president, nobody truly knows. Nominally, you had liberal elites that favored laws and systems like Revolutionary France and you had conservative elites that favored laws and systems like Imperial Spain. The non-elites caught in the middle were basically the victim of a failed economics was always Statist.
(11) The “Southwest” of 1800 was basically an amorphous region made of French control of Mississippi River Ports, USA farmers and frontiersmen attempting commerce, Native American tribes, and Spanish claims. The USA basically filled the territory with fillibusters, soldiers of fortune, miners, and traders. Some people even carried 3 passports. Highly Amorphous.
(12) In the early 1800's Travel between Natchez and Nashville was extremely dangerous and physically difficult. The French control of St Louis did not exceed far beyond the city center. The Comanches were basically the largest organized force of central North America, Spain called the region "la comancheria"
(13) The Comanches kept Spanish soldiers sheltered in the mission courtyard of the Alamo. Spain and later Mexico exercised Zero Control of Texas relative the Native Americans and the Americans they imported. The only permanent residents in the land were the Native Americans. Mexican civil governments actually paid bounty hunters (many Americans) to hunt and fight the tribes. Literally, paid for scalps, ears, and noses. Horrible and lurid stuff.
(14) The British did have an economic interest in the Southwest. If they wanted the USA out of Texas or California, they would have financed Mexico and given Naval support to stop the US. At the end of the day, they rather do business with the USA, who was and is a more reliable investment partner. Transition of power by election is preferred to transition of power via coup.
(15) Texas cotton was for Export! To the British and USA.
(16) In Mexico, the wealthy consider themselves to be Europeans not Native American
(17) Santana had a massive plantation, the author thinks he paid for the labor on his plantation

The narrator is good when talking in English. She should not attempt Southern or Mexican accents, it sound extremely bad.

45 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great book, I learned alot and enjoyed every minut

If you could sum up A Wicked War in three words, what would they be?

Enlightening historical drama

What did you like best about this story?

Unique perspectives from well known figures in our country's history

Any additional comments?

The only thing I was not a huge fan of was how the narrator spoke with a "mexican" accent when quoting mexicans. It seemed to imbue character to a quotation that may have been taken out of context.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

A Wicked Deception

Entertaining but horribly one-sided. Please if you read this book read at least one other on the Mexican War. Any other. Even Wiki. You’ll see this book is full of glaring omissions, half-truths and unsupported assumptions. This war may have been unjust, but I suspect the real story is much more nuanced, with good guys and bad on both sides. You won’t get the whole story here.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Lost opportunity

Would you try another book from Amy S. Greenberg and/or Caroline Shaffer?

From Amy S. Greenberg yes. From Caroline Shaffer no way ever.

What other book might you compare A Wicked War to and why?

Battle Cry of Freedom but not as detailed. It's a good narrative of the Mexican war which is all but forgotten in history.

How could the performance have been better?

Different Narrator. This lady is by far the worst narrator I've listen to in the few years of my membership. Her terrible fake overdone attempt at portraying a Southern accent pierced my spine and I found it rather demeaning to those of Southern heritage. She stands firmly in the way of the message from an informative work. If Ms. Shaffer wishes to be an audio actress then she should do audio drama not narrative reading.

What character would you cut from A Wicked War?

It's a historical perspective I would cut no one.

Any additional comments?

I can't overemphasise what a terrible job Ms. Shaffer did on this narration. Read the book and nix the audio acting. She damaged an otherwise good book.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Too many accents hurts the listening experience

The reader chose to do each of the book's many, many, many quotes (many of which weren't worth the author quoting), from a multitude of major and minor chacters, in a different accent. Her accents are done very well, but the constant change of voice is jarring and ultimately tedious.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting history, terrible performance

Would you try another book from Amy S. Greenberg and/or Caroline Shaffer?

nothing narrated by Caroline Shaffer her style is terrible

Who was your favorite character and why?

Really did not have a favorite character. Santana was a poor leader.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

voice, tone, theatrical attempts poor. The narration detracted from the enjoyment so much that I quit before the end and read the book.

Did A Wicked War inspire you to do anything?

read the book rather than listen to that woman

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great Story! Distracting Narration

Where does A Wicked War rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Great book about undiscussed history of the Mexican-American War. Unfortunately the narrator distracts from the story. She over-acts and attempts to speak with voices and accents that seem tortured.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Full of fabricated and exaggerated "facts."

Please do not waste your time or money on this book. You will regret it if you do.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Should have been better

There are three main points that define this audiobook, the trite depictions of the title characters, the odd obsession with manliness, and most annoyingly, the unbearable accents. And it's almost as if the author collected personal biographies of three historical figures, needed the war to tie them all together.

To portray Clay and Lincoln so positively, as to approach sycophancy, and Polk so derisively, is in line with conventional historical understanding. But in the 21st century we might have expected more circumspect assessments of these men.

Early on, the author sets the tone that manliness will be a subject to be discussed. This may be understandable, but it renders the big picture a bit muddier. The author clearly recognizes that the supremacy of white Christianity, racism and slavery are at the core of this story, as she repeatedly uses the familiar racist terminology, on her own and through quotations, of manifest destiny and Anglo-Saxonism. Perhaps it's considered a given, but the focus on manliness and territorial expansion loses a bit, glossing over an overarching philosophy. Only in the epilogue does the author briefly, very briefly, tie historical threads together. A missed opportunity.

But by far, the biggest problem is the accents. I'm sure the narrator is quite talented with the accents. But considering no audio recordings are available, I'm not quite sure why they are necessary. I'd love to have said she did a bang-on John Tyler impersonation, but how would I know? At one point, the narrator uses a southern accent to relate a New Orleans newspaper article. A newspaper. In addition, Spanish and German accents strain credulity, and become cringeworthy. I don't typically critique narrators, and judging by the volume of accented voices, it must certainly have been the intent of, and approved by, the author. They are just unnecessary and distracting.