Summary and book reviews of Gone For Soldiers by Jeff Shaara

Gone For Soldiers

A Novel of The Mexican War

By Jeff Shaara

Gone For Soldiers
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  • Hardcover: May 2000,
    512 pages.
    Paperback: Jul 2001,
    448 pages.

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With his acclaimed New York Times bestsellers Gods and Generals and The Last Full Measure, Jeff Shaara expanded upon his father's Pulitzer Prize-winning Civil War classic, The Killer Angels -- ushering the reader through the poignant drama of this most bloody chapter in our history. Now, in Gone for Soldiers, Jeff Shaara carries us back fifteen years before that momentous conflict, when the Civil War's most familiar names are fighting for another cause, junior officers marching under the same flag in an unfamiliar land, experiencing combat for the first time in the Mexican-American War.

In March 1847, the U.S. Navy delivers eight thousand soldiers on the beaches of Vera Cruz. They are led by the army's commanding general, Winfield Scott, a heroic veteran of the War of 1812, short tempered, vain, and nostalgic for the glories of his youth. At his right hand is Robert E. Lee, a forty-year-old engineer, a dignified, serious man who has never seen combat.

Scott leads his troops against the imperious Mexican dictator, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana. Obsessed with glory and his place in history, Santa Ana arrogantly underestimates the will and the heart of Scott and his army. As the Americans fight their way inland, both sides understand that the inevitable final conflict will come 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 and themselves, as young men witness for the first time the horror of war. While Scott must weigh his own place in history, fighting what many consider a bully's war, Lee the engineer becomes Lee the hero, the one man in Scott's command whose extraordinary destiny as a soldier is clear.

In vivid, brilliant prose that illuminates the dark psychology of soldiers and their commanders trapped behind enemy lines, Jeff Shaara brings to life the haunted personalities and magnificent backdrop, the familiar characters, the stunning triumphs and soul-crushing defeats of this fascinating, long-forgotten war. Gone for Soldiers is an extraordinary achievement that will remain with you long after the final page is turned.

IN 1844 THE UNITED STATES IS VERY MUCH A NATION FEELING ITS youth. Since the country was doubled in size by the Louisiana Purchase, there has been a passion for expansion, for pushing the boundaries farther west, a mission to bring the new enlightenment of the "American Ideal" to the entire continent. To politicians in Washington, this expansion is justified not just by an enthusiasm for our system of government, but by official policy. The document is the Monroe Doctrine, and the rallying cry becomes Manifest Destiny, as though it is not only in the nation's best interests to expand our influence, but the best interest of anyone whose culture we might absorb. This practice has already resulted in bloody conflict with several Indian Nations, notably the Seminoles in Florida. It also leads to a showdown with the British over the Oregon Territory, a threat the British defuse by backing away.

In summer 1844 the independent nation of Texas is annexed by the United States. The ...

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Despite a palpable dip in quality from the author's previous historical fiction, most of Shaara's fans will ride with Lee on this campaign.

Reader Reviews
Michael Reed

Gone for Soldiers Book
I enjoyed the book, Gone for Soldiers by Jeff Shaara, because it helps to describe the Mexican War 1846-1848, under General Scott. I enjoy the sequence of events, from the landing of VeraCruz to the city of Mexico. I would like to see that this ...   Read More

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