In 1915, northern Mexico is in a state of revolution led by Pancho Villa and his army. There are American mining and ranching interests located throughout the area. One cattle ranch is owned by a Boston millionaire who has made his money from the New England and Pacific Railroad: Colonel John McGill Shaughnessy. His adopted son, Arthur, works out of Chicago and has an avid interest in early flight. John Shaughnessy and his son head for El Paso, and ultimately their ranch in Mexico, accompanied by their families. Unbeknownst to the Shaughnessys, Pancho Villa has murdered the ranch manager, stolen some of the cattle, and has plans to take over all the other American businesses in the region.
This family saga has all the ingredients of a classic, depicting the Mexican Revolution, its effect on the innocent Mexican people, and Americans caught up in the maelstrom of Pancho Villa’s wrath. The story incorporates actual persons such as writer and communist John Reed, writer and former Civil War soldier Ambrose Bierce, cowboy and eventual actor Tom Mix, and Pancho Villa himself. There are kidnappings, battles, an explicit bullfight, and daring escapes. This book is also about the marriage between Arthur and his wife, Xenia, along with his relationship with his adoptive father.
This sprawling epic is the newest work by the author of Forrest Gump and many popular nonfiction books about the Civil War. The life, culture, and times of the Mexican Revolution are vividly portrayed. There are a number of fascinating characters, and the author fastidiously captures their essence and makes them credible and realistic. The blending of actual and fictional characters is done well. I highly recommend this well-researched novel.