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El Paso  By  cover art

El Paso

By: Winston Groom
Narrated by: Robertson Dean
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Publisher's Summary

Three decades after the first publication of Forrest Gump, Winston Groom returns to fiction with this sweeping American epic.

Long fascinated with the Mexican Revolution and the vicious border wars of the early 20th century, Winston Groom brings to life a much-forgotten period of history in this sprawling saga of heroism, injustice, and love. An episodic novel set in six parts, El Paso pits the legendary Pancho Villa, a much-feared outlaw and revolutionary, against a thrill-seeking railroad tycoon known as the Colonel, whose fading fortune is tied up in a colossal ranch in Chihuahua, Mexico.

But when Villa kidnaps the Colonel's grandchildren in the midst of a cattle drive and absconds into the Sierra Madre, the aging New England patriarch and his adopted son head to El Paso, hoping to find a group of cowboys brave enough to hunt the generalissimo down.

Replete with gunfights, daring escapes, and an unforgettable bullfight, El Paso, with its textured blend of history and legend, becomes an indelible portrait of the American Southwest in the waning days of the frontier.

©2016 Winston Groom (P)2016 Recorded Books

What listeners say about El Paso

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Good premise, but scatterbrained in narration

I have mixed feelings about this book. Although I liked the subject, at the midway point it’s starting to get very choppy. Some chapters are divided into several sections, and the way the narration was recorded, the point of view transitions are very quick and jarring.

Many of the supporting characters are thinly developed, and towards the end of the book they start dropping like flies. I have read a few books of this vein that include real historical people, and sometimes I can’t help but wonder if they feature so prominently because the author wants the name recognition. The last book I read about the Mexican border featured Patton and Pershing so often that they nearly hijacked the story. I am glad that did not happen here, but I was worried.

While I appreciate writers who try to give more exposure to ignore the aspects of American history and our shared history with Mexico, I felt this book tried to do a little too much at once. Some story elements that were introduced and built up at significant were concluded so hastily that I felt the author was trying to get them finished as quickly as possible. For example, the race between airplane and train is finished so quickly that it barely warrants a footnote. Johnny’s wife is the first significant hostage that is taken by Poncho Villa‘s army, but for most of the book after that she plays no significant role, despite Johnny’s rescue attempt being built up as a major plot development. When his three companions are conveniently killed by the bowl, that’s when I began to suspect that the book was losing focus.

As far as the narration goes, I appreciated the distinctiveness of every character’s voice. It made it easy to tell who was speaking.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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interesting story

A very believable historical fiction, with a pretty fast story that keeps bringing you back. The narrator was okay, but I did have trouble focusing at times- he had a monotone reading style that I did not appreciate.

1 person found this helpful

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awesome book!

love a good western, this was definitely entertaining! can't wait till it becomes a movie!

1 person found this helpful

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An unexpected pleasure

This book snuck up on me. My son suggested I read it but I thought it would be stale and boring. Groom’s writing style is a gift to us all. This needs to be a Netflix original! Wonderful story and definitely shows the grit of El Paso! A must read!

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Michener for today’s the pallet of today’s readers

Like a long involved Michener Novel (think Centennial). This story intertwined enough US and Mexican facts into the stories to creat a wonderful blend of humanity, in-humanity, romance, cowboys and our first American fly-people (you’ll understand if/when you read or listen. Another of those darned books that make you watch the page count, the remaining chapters...because you don’t want it to end. But it does end and, not as lightly as I might have wished but it ends well.

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Entertaining Enough

This story was definitely entertaining enough to finish the book, but the plot had too many unexpected turns and the ending was bitter sweet. Some of the things that happened had me scratching my head and asking what was the point of XYZ...

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Great read for the road

There are many twists and turns in the lives of many characters that kept us listening throughout our road trip. The miles flew by because the book is well written.

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    1 out of 5 stars

Lacks humanity, depth, and geography

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

While I understand that this novel is a story with some fast and loose connections to history, it should be at least close to the truth at the points where it ties into actual events and places. The book simply makes no sense, making up history, folding time and geography upon itself, and making up historical figures' roles in events. Even the fact-checking afterword from the author at the end is wrong. Tom Mix did not die peacefully in his sleep as an old man. He was killed in a car crash in 1940. There is no evidence that he ever met Pancho Villa, only a made-up novel/play about it, and he certainly wasn't a captain in Villa's army. The geography bears no relation to the real world. Michoacán is somehow in Chihuahua, people journey for weeks and months to cover maybe 60-100 miles while somehow covering 500 miles in a half-day. The timing of the events of the Mexican Revolution are also scrambled. In addition, the story is at times, grisly just to be grisly and sensational. Animals and people of color are used as literary tools to indicate lack of humanity or background context. There is a fairly high body count of humans and animals alike.

Would you ever listen to anything by Winston Groom again?

Never.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Robertson Dean?

Yes, he was a good narrator. I only wished he had read a little faster because the book was so tedious.

What character would you cut from El Paso?

Tom Mix - that was such a strange inclusion and completely unnecessary. Ultimately, does a hero (albeit a flawed one) need to be a white male, preferably a cowboy idol, so much so that the author needs to pluck him out of the Southwest U.S. and place him in this story?

Any additional comments?

I lived in northern Mexico, just below the Chihuahua state line, for several years, and nothing about this book made any sense. If the author ever traveled in this area, he must have done it blindfolded. If he did do any background research, it must have been from U.S. authors as well. The novel is remarkably one-sided in its perspective.

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Great read

Excellent novel. Fast paced, characters well developed and good story. Not really a historical novel but quite a few real life characters to make it interesting.
Will look forward to more books by this author.