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Gone for Soldiers: A Novel of the Mexican War
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Gone for Soldiers: A Novel of the Mexican War

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  3,580 Ratings  ·  169 Reviews
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 co ...more
Paperback, 512 pages
Published November 4th 2003 by Ballantine Books (first published 2000)
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The Book Thief by Markus ZusakGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellThe Pillars of the Earth by Ken FollettThe Help by Kathryn StockettA Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Recommended Historical Fiction
338th out of 2,271 books — 2,376 voters
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Best War Novels
113th out of 739 books — 746 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Lyn
Sep 09, 2015 Lyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating detail, especially keen on an inside look at a very young, but already brilliant Captain Robert E. Lee.

Shaara's 2000 historic novel about the Mexican-American War is a fascinating book by itself and can also be seen as a precursor to Shaara's later work on the American Civil War. Providing a depth of characterization that will be worthwhile to readers and students of this era in American history, the reader gets to know about many historical personages, most notably Lee and General W
...more
Philip
Wow, what a surprise! This was just an excellent book, far more enjoyable than Gods and Generals, which was the only previous Jeff Shaara book I read, and which paled in comparison to his father's The Killer Angels. However, Shaara Jr. has become a better writer, and in taking on the Mexico City Campaign of the Mexican-American War, he found a new conflict that hasn't been overworked before, but which proves to be a brilliant prequel to the "Civil War Trilogy," introducing many of the same chara ...more
Vance
Oct 18, 2008 Vance rated it it was amazing
Who writes about the Mexican War? Who remembers we even had one? What's really neat about this book is how you get to watch a bunch of famous folks like Lee and Longstreet make their bones in Mexico under one of the more capable generals in American history. Later those guys will fight their friends in the Civil War. Poignant.
Richard
Jul 06, 2008 Richard rated it really liked it
is a novel of the Mexican War. It is based on the facts and the people of the war, but Shaara reports conversations that probably didn’t happen but could have. He reports thoughts of the main characters which he wouldn't know, but they could have happened. So he takes some literary license to write the book but he does a good job of it. I know a lot more about the Mexican War and the battles that took place as well as the men involved. The two main characters are Robert E. Lee, a young captain. ...more
Donna Davis
Sep 01, 2012 Donna Davis rated it it was amazing
I was teaching history, but I always skipped the war between the US and Mexico. There was more curriculum than I could rightfully cover during the school year, and this was my favorite war to skip. It seemed dull as dirt, and there was no real righteousness behind it, as there had been with the American Revolution and the American Civil War. I left it out until large numbers of Latino students moved into my district. Suddenly, instead of mostly Asian kids, I had mostly Latino kids...and the Engl ...more
Kevin Symmons
Dec 02, 2014 Kevin Symmons rated it liked it
Somehow as has happened in the past with my reviews I hit the wrong key and lost 30 minutes worth of work so as my patience evaporates I'll summarize my thoughts. I found Michael Shaara's work exceptional. But it's difficult to argue with a Pulitzer Prize winner. I have read several of his son novels and fail to find it as inspiring. The younger Shaara has a tendency to slide into endless internal monologue to advance the plot... problem is we have no idea as to the accuracy of what Robert E. Le ...more
James
Aug 07, 2014 James rated it it was amazing
This interesting study of the expedition led by General Winfield Scott into Mexico from Veracruz to Mexico City highlights the role played by Captain Robert E. Lee as an engineer and strategist working under the careful, prudent command of General Scott. The string of victories by Scott's army from Veracruz to Mexico City during March to September 1847 would seem in general history books to be little more than an effortless march into the interior of Mexico and gain of immense lands comprising m ...more
Ann Chenhall
Jul 25, 2015 Ann Chenhall rated it really liked it
This was an important American war I knew nothing about, although many of the soldiers play a significant role in the Civil War. This war was 1846-1848 and basically involved a land grab of California, New Mexico and part of Texas. The Americans make it all the way to the gates of Mexico City, due to some heroics of U.S. Grant and Robert E. Lee as young men. I do love historical fiction since this genre brings the past alive through characters and dialogue. The details of the war are encased in ...more
Shari
Jan 08, 2015 Shari rated it liked it
The Mexican War, 1847-1848 -- something I know little about. I was impressed with Shaara's strong sense of politics and the difficulties it makes for the military. Politicians who have agendas of their own (and that's probably too many of them) have little or no understanding of military principle in this historical narrative. President James K. Polk used his generals and his political underlings cavalierly, tossing them under the train when they cease their viability to his plan, which puts the ...more
Jim
Aug 30, 2007 Jim rated it really liked it
One of the best and most simple books on the Mexican American war. Written in the same style as "Killer Angels" and other definitive novels of the civil war, Jeff Sharra brings this conflict to life while also showing the tight and close relationships of many of the officers who ultimately stood across the battlefields from each other during the civil war.

Particularly good on the development of "Stonewall" Jackson and General Robert E. Lee.
Tom Fehringer
Jul 25, 2014 Tom Fehringer rated it really liked it
Jeff Shaara makes history enjoyable. I thought the writing in this Shaara novel started out a little mechanical but improves throughout the book. Shaara does an excellent job of conveying not just historically important events but also the politically important context for the timeperiod and how the events and politics of the time impacted the personal lives and emotions of those involved. Obviously the personal aspects are Shaara's interpreatation of the historical characters based on his resea ...more
Tom Darrow
Jul 01, 2011 Tom Darrow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Solid historical fiction on a little-known or written-about war in US history. Two slight drawbacks... 1) it is in Shaara's formulaic writing style (which isn't, in itself, a bad thing... but it can get stale when you read it a lot), 2) Because he'd written two books about the Civil War, it seems like he's trying a little too hard to fit some of those charcters into the narative.
Lynn Pribus
Dec 09, 2015 Lynn Pribus rated it liked it
I liked it, but not my favorite genre. I read this for my bi-monthly VISIT A NOVEL column in MILITARY OFFICER magazine, so end up reading a lot of military historical fiction. This novel is by the son of Micheal Shaara who wrote Killer Angels about Gettysburg. Jeff has an annoying choppy style, but still presents a readable book.

The Mexican-American War is often overlooked and overshadowed by the Civil War. If I ever knew it, I'd forgotten American troops went all the way to Mexico City and Chap
...more
Gretchen
I loved this book! The detailed strategies of the battles were a bit much for me (just like in Shaara's other books), but I loved learning about the people. I had never studied the Mexican American war in much detail, so I learned a lot from the book. Especially poignant was learning about so many men who were famous in the Civil War...on opposite sides....who fought side-by-side in Mexico, and truly respected each other. That made the complexities of the Civil War that much more real.

Readers a
...more
Bonnie
Feb 26, 2014 Bonnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not my favorite of this author's books and I found it a little hard to get into. Nevertheless, I did like it better as it went along. Part of my problem in getting into it was that I didn't read many pages a day at first. We were on vacation and I was reading another book on my Nook. I brought this book to read going up and down in the plane and to read on the beach where I wouldn't want to bring electronics. When I did read more pages at a time I enjoyed it more.

I felt that occasionall
...more
John Devlin
Jan 23, 2016 John Devlin rated it liked it
A minor work that does a serviceable job of explaining the grittier aspects of the Mexican-American work from a military perspective. As always the author moves through the minds of the participants from General Winfield Scott and Robert E. Lee to Stonewall Jackson and even Santa Ana.

The characters are carefully rendered and the writer does a good job of showing Lee's naive determination, Jackson's growing religious devotion, and Scott's high toned irascibility.

If the book suffers at all, the Me
...more
Paul Callister
Nov 24, 2008 Paul Callister rated it really liked it
Shelves: historicalnovel
Nice historical novel and account of how Robert E. Lee first proved himself, with many other figures who would be come prominent in the Civil War.
Ian Sullivan
The Mexican War is an often overlooked, yet critical aspect of US history. Shaara's "Gone for Soldiers" does an excellent job telling the story of that war through the eyes of such luminaries as Winfield Scott, Robert E. Lee, Santa Anna, and others. I found the characters fascinating, namely as they struggled to rectify the nature of the war, from a political sense, with the nature of warfare. It is a telling lesson on one's duty; to nation, commander, and colleague. This book spoke to me in uni ...more
Shawn
Jul 24, 2009 Shawn rated it it was ok
Least favorite of his novels. Not as gripping and now his style has gotten tired.
Scott Wilson
Jan 23, 2014 Scott Wilson rated it it was amazing
This book was particularly interesting to me not because of any interest in the Mexican-American war. I mean, let's face it, it was nothing more than a shameless land grab from the Mexicans, fueled by Manifest Destiny; and the fact that slavery was illegal in Mexico, and ranchers in Texas wanted slaves. There's no way to spin that, so we just ignore the war in its entirety.

What makes this novel so interesting is the interplay, respect, and even friendship among fellow officers serving side by si
...more
Ed
Feb 15, 2014 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those wanting to learn more about the Mexican-American War
This very well done historical novel presents a rare detailed look at the Mexican-American War. It covers the period from the arrival of the U.S. expeditionary force off the Mexican Coast at Vera Cruz to the signing of the treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo and the return of the troops to the U.S.

Shaara's technique is somewhat unique. Each chapter is dedicated to a specific U.S. combatant mostly Robert E. Lee, at that time a 40 year old engineer and Winfield Scott, Commander-in-chief of the U.S.Army an
...more
Steven Peterson
Jan 11, 2010 Steven Peterson rated it really liked it
In this work, Jeff Shaara explores the development of America's officer cadre in the Mexican War. Many Civil War generals got their first major wartime experience in this event. Indeed, Jefferson Davis, future President of the Confederate States of America, gained some renown for his use of a particular formation in battle.

The two major protagonists in this story are "Old Fuss and Feathers," General Winfield Scott, and a trusted engineering officer, the redoubtable Captain Robert E. Lee. Over a
...more
Thomas
May 22, 2013 Thomas rated it really liked it
Click here for a full Gone For Soldiers Review

The Mexican-American War is one of the least understood and most underestimated conflicts in American history. Its roots are often muddled in rhetoric and its conclusion was as much because of a giant payoff as it was about a military victory. It is often remembered as a bully’s war that was instigated by Manifest Destiny. But one thing is for certain: it is this war that gave first blood to military leaders that would become household names after th
...more
Ken Hunt
Dec 10, 2011 Ken Hunt rated it really liked it
Love historical fiction, and have always enjoyed Jeff Shaara. Gone for Soldiers helps explore a seemingly rarely studied event, the Mexican American War. This rarity is odd given how rich this event and historical period is to explore. Amazing how many prominent Civil War leaders from both sides, fought side by side as American during this war. Also, serves as a reminder that our generation did not invent petty political polarization that drives irrational decisions and waste of lives to save fa ...more
Shane Saxon
Dec 16, 2013 Shane Saxon rated it really liked it
Jeff Shaara’s ability as a dramatic story teller combines with his careful attention to historical detail to produce one fantastic read in Gone for Soldiers. Shaara has spent most of his life reconstructing history bringing many of America’s greatest sons to life. In Gone for Soldiers, we follow the story line of the Mexican War from the battle of Vera Cruz to the occupation of Mexico City. Teachers and historians often breeze over this three year scuffle over the borders of Texas, but Shaara sh ...more
Ryan
Dec 31, 2009 Ryan rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2009
Another great work by Jeff Shaara. Concerns Gen. Winfield Scott’s march to Mexico City in the US-Mexican War (1847-1848) and the multiple battles fought during that march. Seen mainly through the eyes and thoughts of Scott and R.E. Lee, along with other key players, including Santa Anna. Also details the myriad of promient US military leaders and personalities who were involved in the Mexican war (Lee, Grant, Johnston, Stonewall Jackson, Beaureguard), and later the War Between the States (1861-6 ...more
Brian
Jul 08, 2008 Brian rated it liked it
Shelves: american-history, war
A rarely visited subject that contains such irony--namely, the fighting of the Mexican-American war 13 years prior to the Civil War, however with opposing generals from the latter war on the same side in the former, working together.

Overall, an entertaining read, mostly on the basis of its subject matter. Shaara does a good job of transplanting you into that time period, when Manifest Destiny was a fresh idea (making more sense than it does now), when the consequences of one's actions were more
...more
Mike
Mar 10, 2013 Mike rated it really liked it
I had forgotten how much I enjoy reading Shaara's books. This is the fourth of his that I have read, and I really like how he approaches historical fiction. This book covers the little discussed Mexican War and follow Shaara's trademarked style of having each chapter told from the perspective of an historical figure. The majority of chapters in this book are done through Winfield Scott and Robert E. Lee, with a few chapters at the end (dealing with the attack on Mexico City) being told through t ...more
Tyler Lee
Apr 04, 2014 Tyler Lee rated it it was amazing
When was the last time you read a book about the Mexican-American War or even remembered one actually happened? Did you know many of the men in said war would become some of the biggest names during the Civil War (i.e. Robert E. Lee)? If those questions grab your interest, this book is for you. Jeff Shaara does an amazing job of creating the setting and adding every vivid detail we have come to know from him. This is a wonderful book and I hope you read it.
Debra
Jul 21, 2014 Debra rated it really liked it
Although the reading was dry in style, the material was fabulous. It was great watching men who are renown for their roles in the Civil War begin their military careers. The commentaries on war and politics throughout the novel were also fascinating. A period in American history that tends to get glossed over, Shaara does a great job of bringing it to light and placing much significance on its role in conflicts to come.
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Jeff Shaara, a descendant of Italian immigrants, was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey ("Shaara" was originally spelled "Sciarra"). He grew up in Tallahassee, Florida, and graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Criminology. From age 16, Jeff operated a rare coin business, first out of his home, then in a retail store. After moving to Tampa, Jeff became one of the most widely know ...more
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