Gone for Soldiers, Jeff Shaara carries us back fifteen years before
the Civil War for 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
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,
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.
Hardback, 512 pages, 6x9, 2000, $26.95.