Stallion Gate
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Stallion Gate

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  914 ratings  ·  38 reviews
In a New Mexico blizzard, four men cross a barbed-wire fence at Stallion Gate to select a test site for the first atomic weapon. They are Oppenheimer, the physicist; Groves, the general; Fuchs, the spy. The fourth man is Sergeant Joe Pena, a hero, informer, fighter, musician, Indian. These four men -- and a cast of soldiers, roughnecks and scientists -- will change history...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published June 12th 1987 by Ballantine Books (first published 1986)
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Carole Bucher
Wow. What a wonderful, beautifully crafted, intense read. Had to read the last 100 pages or so twice. Multiple, diverse and compelling story lines woven into the events leading up to Trinity, the testing of the atomic bomb in Los Alamos. That we know the outcome of this test will kill 100s of thousands of Japanese, ending WWII and give birth to the ongoing atomic threat, only adds fuel to the fire he creates in this book -- smoldering at first and erupting into a surprise, almost mystical final...more
Disappointing...perhaps because my expectations were too high. Having recently enjoyed Smith's Polar Star, I had high hopes for Stallion Gate, but those hopes were dashed on almost all fronts.

First, the plot. It cuts back and forth across a variety of story lines that for me built frustration rather than engagement. There's the making and testing of the atomic bomb...the spy among the good guys...the retelling of previous war a quest for music and lonely, frustra...more
Cruz Smith had a terrific idea, to set a mystery thriller at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project, and a great idea for a protagonist, a Pueblo Indian hired to be Oppenheimer's driver, and dammit, he pulls it off.
Althea Ann
Smith published this book directly after his big hit, 'Gorky Park.' However, it never achieved that much success. Reading it, I can see why. It's an interesting concept, but not necessarily wholly successful.
It's an historical novel about a Native American man, Joe Pena, in the US military who is assigned to work with Oppenheimer on the Trinity Project. (the nuclear bomb). Pena's been fished out of a jail cell due to his ties with Oppenheimer, and is really expected to spy on the man, whom his s...more
Not one of Smith's best, mainly because the main character doesn't totally ring true for me. Not sure why; Native Americans can be wonderful musicians and I suppose there's no reason why they can't be boxers too, although why they--or anyone--would want to follow that career path is not something I can remotely appreciate. But for whatever reason, this novel did not hold my interest as much as SMith's Arkady Renko novels, even the lesser ones. The same was true for his book Rose, which I read ye...more
Monel Costin
Not as well realized as his best books. Although the subject - infamous Trinity project - real life characters, and the plot woven around them make it an absorbing story, the aftertaste is not a satisfying one; I believe it's mainly due to some stereotyping and a certain politically-correct slant.
I loved this book. Of course, I was already reading about Los Alamos by way of Richard Feynman's biographies and articles about Oppenheimer (I confess to being a Feynman fan; and no, I'm not a physicist or scientist of any sort, I just read science for fun). Rarely does a novel make me want to open up an atlas and find locations, but this one did. Not that I'd go anywhere NEAR the Trinity site for the next 500-600 years (it's still glowing invisibly, thanks to radiation residue). I also read oth...more
At first I did not think this was going to quite up to par with the Renko series but this standalone turned out to be an entertaining tale of historical suspense. Listened to the audio version which was narrated by Frank Muller who was one of the best.
My favourite of all his books, and I have read many! As always, superbly researched and utterly captivating! Who said you couldn't have brain and brawn? Every Cruz Smith book debunks that myth!
Tony Daniel
Smith is trying to do too much with his character. Joe is a prize fighter, professional grade jazz pianist, full blooded Indian, Army sergeant on-site and friend -- and eventual opponent -- of Oppehheimer during the Trinity test in New Mexico. We're almost in Noble Savage land here, I'm afraid. Joe is also an outstanding lover, seducing 'em in droves, by the way. Long sections on the morality of dropping the bomb (always a nonstarter with me). Some very nicely done inter-tribal politics among th...more
A thriller centered around the race to build the atom bomb at Los Alamos, near the end of World War II.
Sep 17, 2014 Sarah added it
I can’t honestly say if I would recommend this book to anyone. I picked it up because it was set in Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project. I find this area of history fascinating and have read several works of fiction on the same topic before. I did not find the main character interesting at all. He seemed cold and sterile. I enjoyed the historical characters like Oppenheimer and Fuchs more. I don’t know if it is just the writer’s style, but this book left me feeling rather unfulfilled.
While I liked Cruz Smith's later book on a related topic, December 6, I really enjoyed his take on the testing of the first atomic bombs in New Mexico. His characters are always so complex and vibrant. It was so easy to picture the lead, Joe Pena, that I swear I know him already. Another fantastic novel by the sadly, always under-rated Martin Cruz Smith!
Steven Kent
Not Cruz Smith's best work, but still interesting. his native American protagonist is well drawn and the tension keeps you going.

I get the feeling Smith knows something of boxing as well. At one point the protagonist, who is a boxer, comments that scars tear more easily than skin in a match. That's true, but it's not common knowledge.
Mike Ekinaka
One of those books I felt compelled to finish because of the time I had invested in it, but not with a lot of satisfaction. Too many characters that didn't contribute much to the plot, didn't care about the lead character or any of the others. If you've visited Los Alamos and northern New Mexico the descriptions are good but that's about it.
Mark Wright
Good but the ending could have gone on a few more pages. I suppose that's the point.
Joe Fletcher
Martin Cruz Smith hits this one out of the park. Stallion Gate tells the story of Oppenheimer and the team that build the atomic bomb. We saw the mushroom cloud but this is the story of the characters who built it. The genius, petty jealousies, raw ambition and ultimately the horror of their creation.
First, you must allow that Joe is a superman of sorts. Then, you are able to enjoy this book. I did. Improbabilities here and there, but still fun.
I found myself ducking and moving during the fight scene. I like when a writer is just good at the right kind of book.
Historically, but not geographically, accurate novelization of the Trinity phase of the Manhattan Project. Decent characterization but lacks the engagement of his novels set in Russia. One question: why fictionalize the city of Espanola as Esperanza?
Greer Andjanetta
A flat but mildly interesting story about life at Los Alamos in the months leading up to Trinity. A local native Indian is the central character, interacting with such well-known names as Groves, Oppenheimer and Fuchs. Worth reading!
I love Cruz Smith. The protagonist is a tough guy but my hero was Oppenheimer.
There is just one thing wrong with this book. Joe Pena dies at the end.

Well, maybe two things. Anna Weiss isn't good enough for him.

Even then, this is on my best-books-ever list.
I don't think MCS is capable of writing a bad book, but this is as close as I've seen him come. The protagonist is a jazz pianist who likes to engage in bare-knuckle boxing. That's...yeah.
Read the first 100 pages and the last chapter...perfect example of and ending I choose not to reach. I wanted to love this...have read others...JUST can't right now.
Jul 27, 2010 Matt marked it as abandoned
I've loved nearly all of Smith's books, but this one just seems like too much work. To be fair, I only got a few chapters in, so maybe I'll come back to it some day.
historical novel about the first atomic bomb test in new mexico, before the end of WWII. i thought it dragged a bit in the middle, but i still really liked it.
A page turner esponiage about the lead-up to the Manhattan project testing in the desert. Complex characters well-drawn and a fast-paced plot.
A combination of history and fiction during the last month before the atomic bomb test in New Mexico. A well told story.
Wanted to like this b/c it's set in New Mexico and about Oppenheimer, but it was too easy to put down.
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AKA Simon Quinn, Nick Carter.

Martin Cruz Smith (born Martin William Smith), American novelist, received his BA in Creative Writing from the University of Pennsylvania in 1964. He worked as a journalist from 1965 to 1969 before turning his hand to fiction. His first mystery (Gypsy in Amber – 1971) features NY gypsy art dealer Roman Grey and was nominated for an Edgar Award. Nightwing was his breakt...more
More about Martin Cruz Smith...
Gorky Park (Arkady Renko, #1) Polar Star (Arkady Renko, #2) Red Square (Arkady Renko, #3) Wolves Eat Dogs (Arkady Renko, #5) Havana Bay (Arkady Renko, #4)

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