• Gone for Soldiers

  • A Novel of the Mexican War
  • By: Jeff Shaara
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Davis
  • Length: 19 hrs and 41 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (538 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

With his acclaimed New York Times best sellers 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 15 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 8,000 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 40-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 chapter is finished. 

©2000 Jeffrey M. Shaara (P)2000 Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio Publishing, A Division of Random House, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Brilliant does not even begin to describe the Shaara gift. Thank Gods and Generals that it was passed from father to son." (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

What listeners say about Gone for Soldiers

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

History through the eyes of individuals

I never liked history in school. I did not realize at that time the importance of history on all of us. Besides that, history was never presented in a way that made you realize it was alive, and was formed by people who were just like us. "Gone for Soldiers" not only makes history come alive, it makes a relatively unknown period of history known to us. I remember hearing about the "Mexican War" in school - but that was it. The name of the war and some dates.

The author does a fantastic job of painting portraits of the various characters through whom the story is told. To anyone who has read any of Mr. Shaara's other works, or the work of his father, "The Killer Angels," a thread can be seen connecting each of his works through those characters, their predecessors, and their descendants.

I am indebted to Mr. Shaara to opening my eyes to this segment of American history. I would never have known about the greatness of Winfield Scott but for this book. Most other Americans do not know, either.

I recommend getting this book, either in print or audio, for the sheer educational value of it. Get it, listen to (or read) it, and get your children to listen to it. If for no other reason, get it just for the sheer entertainment value! Mr. Shaara, along with his close attention to the facts, has a remarkable literary talent. On top of that, the narrator, Jonathan Davis, reads not only with superb diction, but using different voices is able to add further brush strokes to the portrait of each historical character.

Thank you, Mr. Shaara, Mr. Davis and audible.com.

16 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

If you like historical fiction you will love this.

One doesn't hear about the life experiences that helped shape the historical figure. The story gave me a better idea of where people were relative to other historical figures alive at the time. Enjoyed it.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Real history that reads like fiction

This is a must-read book. It is told through the eyes of the major players in this war: Winfield Scott, Robert E. Lee, and Santa Anna. The characters are portrayed as real people and not larger than life. The focus is on the events of the Mexican-American War and the men who accomplished them. The pre-Civil War personalities are only mentioned briefly except for Robert E. Lee and his rise to brilliance. Shaara writes a very interesting history but its accuracy is not sacrificed for entertainment. I find this lively telling of history to be more entertaining than today's best fiction writers. After reading this you will want to experience more of Shaara's work. If only Audible would release all his books in unabridged format...

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Usually dull

I am trying to flesh out my limited knowledge on the Mexican American War. I really liked Training Ground, and figured I'd try historical fiction in an unusual change of direction for me. This book is just dull. Parts are very interesting, but over all I'd advise against even trying. It seems like most of it is a soliloquy. Each character's internal thoughts to the extent that I've actually yelled "who cares!?" Two or three times so far. It gets to the point that it's insufferable.

Read Training Ground if you want a good Mexican War book. It's descriptive, exciting and informative.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A Real treasure on a Neglected Time

The War with Mexico, just prior to the American Civil War, is one of the most interesting and least known chapters of American history. Many of the figures of this war would be the commanders and leaders of the Civil War. They learned the art of war in this event. This book is a great prequel to this tragic time. Told around Robert E. Lee, U.S. Grant, James Longstreet, George Pickett and Winfield Scott, this book is a gem! I highly recommend it.

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

A big disappointment

I bought this recording because I wanted to learn about the history of the Mexican American War and though I was unfamiliar with Jeff Shara's work, I was aware that he wrote Civil War books one of which The Killer Angels was a basis for a movie.

The narrator did a fine job but the book was not at all what I expected.
It is essentially fictional dialogue by a few characters who figure later in the Civil War - mostly Lee, Winfield Scott and Grant. There is also dialogue by General Santa Anna.

The story is slow paced and tedious. Absolutely none of the dialogue rings true. You never for a second believe you are hearing the real conversations of soldiers at war. The dialogue reads like a 1960s TV show (say Bonanza) with each character taking on their own virtuous persona (for example - Lee humble, Scott wise but vainglorious). Santa Anna is portrayed like a stereotypical bad character like from a an old Zorro TV show.

The worse part was that the story lacks any rich detail about the daily lives and activities of the participants that would be the fruit of some solid research. What did the soldiers eat? According to Shara - "rations", what type of weapons were the two sides equipped with?
According to Shara "muskets". How did the artillery battery get a heavy field piece and munitions to a top of a mountain to engage the Mexicans? Answer: "a rope".

In the Hornblower series, C.S. Forester - a much more competent writer describes how the English moved artillery from a ship to the top of a mountain. He got into detail about the rigging of blocks and tackles and use of levers. He describes how the sailors were tasked with each carrying one cannon ball. It is the details that make a history come alive.

I felt Gone for Soldiers was a waste of time.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Time Machine

This is great compilation of the facts as they happened in 1847. These were 17 hours of great history learning. It was a time machine were I could see all the generals at their formation as so.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating!

The Mexican War...under taught and largely misunderstood. So, this is a compelling study and simply fascinating, with many parallels to current times. Worth every minute.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Enjoy learning about history

This was my first Shaara book, and I learned why many people love him as an author. At first I almost didn't get the book because it was an period I didn't care much about. I learned that my lack of interest was really due to a lack of knowledge. I not only enjoyed learning more about a fogotten period of our history, but enjoyed learning about the early military experiences of many of the men who would later become the leaders of both sides during the civil war.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Like being at the Mexican War

Gone for Soldiers is a must book for anyone that is interested in the civil war. It does and excellent job of describing what made good and bad soldiers. The main focuse is on Winfield Scott,(who I did not know much about) and Robert E Lee. Plus you get a look at Grant , Longstreet, Johnson and others.

It is interesting and seems to be based on facts. There is no doubt that the author feels that Scott did not get enough credit for the job he did in Mexico, and Polk is shown as doing everything for politics.

The information about how Lee and Grant got recognition is also well done and interesting.

I would recommend the book to anyone who likes a good adventure store.

2 people found this helpful