Gone for Soldiers: A Novel of the Mexican War share button
Jeff Shaara
Format Mass Market Paperback
Dimensions 4.15 (w) x 6.88 (h) x 1.11 (d)
Pages 512
Publisher Random House Publishing Group
Publication Date November 2003
ISBN 9780345427526
Book ISBN 10 0345427521
About Book

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.


Barnes & Noble Guide to New Fiction

Shaara's most recent Civil War novel is seen through the eyes of Robert E. Lee. It received our highest score, introducing readers to the most famous war heroes as they taste combat for the first time. "Gives life and color to one of the most significant wars of the U.S., and to the great names in connected to it."


This historical novel rips off the polite mask of "Manifest Destiny" and shows us the blood and guts of the Mexican War of 1846-1848. It would be impossible to praise too highly Shaara's work. He tells the story of an unpopular war from the perspectives of those involved: Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, Winfield Scott, Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, Stonewall Jackson, and others who are well known to students of the Civil War. Shaara's gift is the ability to put the reader there, to recreate the history. The novel reads at times like an action film, with explosions, body parts, screaming horses and bayonet thrusts. At other times Shaara takes us into the minds of those who fought and died. We share the arrogance of Santa Anna, the cunning of Scott, the ingenuity of Grant, and the growing competence of Robert E. Lee. We know, as the characters do not, what is to come in the near future and how their relationships will change. We also learn about the politics of the war, about the hidden motives of Washington and the President. As Lee comes to understand, the war was not about bravery or saving Mexicans from a dictator. It was about land: the land of Texas and New Mexico and California, land that the U.S. finally paid for at more advantageous terms because of the American occupation of Mexico City. Highly recommended. KLIATT Codes: SA*—Exceptional book, recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2000, Ballantine, 426p., $15.95. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Janet Julian; English Teacher, Retired, Grafton H.S., Grafton, M , November 2001 (Vol. 35, No. 6)

Library Journal

This is Shaara's successful prequel to his father Michael's Pulitzer Prize-winning Civil War novel, The Killer Angels. Many of the same characters inhabit its pages but before their allegiances have been fatally strained by the tensions of an impending Civil War. The protagonists are Gen. Winfield Scott, who created our first modern army, and young engineer Robert E. Lee, being tested for the first time as soldier and leader in the little-known Mexican War. Add Stonewall Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, Jeb Stuart, Joe Johnston, Beauregarde, Mexican general Santa Anna--what a cast of characters! The book is simply wonderful, populated with eminently human heroes who are called upon to perform Herculean tasks in a war muddied beyond redemption by the ambitions of back-home and battlefield politicians. Like Patrick Rambaud's The Battle (LJ 5/1/00) this is first-rate military historical fiction. Well worth reading. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/00.]--David Keymer, California State Univ., Stanislaus, CA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\

Kirkus Reviews

Lg. Prt.: 0-375-43057-1 Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Shaara's son (who followed his late father's classic The Killer Angels with his own Civil War-set Gods and Generals, 1996, and The Last Full Measure, 1998) moves into new historical territory with this impressive fictional account of the comparatively lesser-known Mexican War (1846-48). The novel's (almost exclusively military) actions are presented in parallel stories primarily featuring US Army commander Winfield (`Old Fuss and Feathers`) Scott, a decorated veteran of the War of 1812, and Scott's more-than-efficient subordinate, a 40-year-old engineer and artillery specialist named Robert E. Lee. To the younger Lee, the war is a welcome test of his still-developing tactical skills and his resolve; to the grizzled, unillusioned Scott, it's `a nasty little fight all about land,` and further evidence of catastrophic interference contributed to the war effort by the ill-judged `diplomacy` of President James Polk. The (invariably interesting) thoughts and experiences of both men are buttressed—and illuminated—by intermittent segments of the narrative presented from the viewpoints of such other combatants as roughhewn Captain Joe Johnston, brother officers Thomas J. `Stonewall` Jackson and Ulysses S. Grant (in these antebellum years, Lee's comrade-in-arms), and, notably, Mexico's defiant military leader Santa Anna (a richly drawn character who probably deserves his own novel). Shaara offers superb impressionistic descriptions of such crucial campaigns as the (early) naval attack on the port of Vera Cruz; the battles of Cerro Gordo, the `lava field` known as the Pedregal, and Churubusco; and the triumphantconquest ofMexico City, after which Scott is offered the position of `dictator of Mexico.` Parallels to Viet Nam aren't forced, but are strongly felt throughout this simultaneously stirring and deeply cautionary saga. Another fine historical novel from a new master of the genre.Author tour