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A Wicked War

Polk, Clay, Lincoln and the 1846 U.S. Invasion of Mexico
Narrated by: Caroline Shaffer
Length: 12 hrs and 46 mins
Categories: History, American
4 out of 5 stars (153 ratings)

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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 members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    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.

19 of 20 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    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. I think she is an expert in PC topics like gender studies and race baiting. 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 before them chose not to adopt free-market capitalism and trade as the economic system, the USA did and they whipped us. The better ideas won, that’s cool. This book has so much fake content that I don't know what can be trusted.

Basically, the author hates America, 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 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.
(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
(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
(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
(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 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.
(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 Tartar raiders of central North America, Spain called the region "la comancheria"
(13) The Comanches kept Spanish soldiers huddled 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
(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 fiscal nation than Mexico
(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.

22 of 31 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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 of 13 people found this review helpful

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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.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    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

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    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.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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A bit protracted, yet nonetheless interesting

The author could have skimmed, in total, a fifth of the book. There were times that specificity could have beneficially been avoided. It is still an effective historical piece; it's informative and well rounded.

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A detailed history

A detailed look at the idea of manifest destiny and it's influence on US expansion.

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Should be taught in American Schools

To say that the United States and Mexico have an ambivilant relationship would be an understatement. This book goes into the sobering history of the United States-under President James Knox Polk-essentially conjures up a war to take what at the time was about one third of Mexico's territory. It goes over some very shameful conduct in the carrying out of this war of aggression. This is a book that should be read to help frame the discussions of our relationship with Mexico and Americans of Mexican descent.