Praise for Winston Groom's Kearny's March:
“Readable and engaging. . . . Groom is a masterful storyteller. . . . Told wonderfully, drolly by Groom. . . . Informed, reliable, shrewd and insightful, but laid-back. . . . Graceful and succinct. . . . Kearny’s March is for those who long to relive those exciting and dangerous days—and more particularly for those happy just to read about them. Groom fleshes his story out with enough extravagant, flawed personalities to cast a Shakespearean comedy.”
—Dallas Morning News
“Vivid. . . . Groom’s retelling of the Year of Decision is brisk, unblinking, unsentimental. . . . This is not a tale for dainty or euphemistic narration, and Groom knows warfare at first hand.”
—The Weekly Standard
“Groom describes the hardships of [Kearny’s] trail beautifully. . . . The exploits of many of the colorful characters in this history are often breathtaking. . . . A grand story. . . . Groom has developed his powers of storytelling—characterization, concision, and scene-by-scene description—to a high art.”
“Thrilling. . . . Groom is a graceful, fluid wordsmith with a gift for crafting history. . . . An altogether superior read. . . . [Groom] engages, informs and entertains the reader all at once, so that one comes away from his nonfiction books feeling good about what’s been so effortlessly learned. . . . The book’s main focus is the incredible march west by Gen. Stephen Watts Kearny in 1846, but significant parallel themes include the Mexican War, the Mormon exodus, the Santa Fe and Oregon trails, the Donner Party, and the conquest of California. These are all well-known events and have been oft-related through the years. But Groom’s achievement is to interweave them all seamlessly and sweep the reader along like an aspen leaf in a Rocky Mountain stream. . . . Groom is not only a good writer, he’s a fine historian into the bargain.”
“Groom has done a sprightly job of chronicling this important but little-studied conflict.”
—Larry McMurtry, Harper’s
“A vivid recounting of the seminal year that transformed the adolescent United States into a two-ocean nation. . . . [Groom] presents this story with novelistic flair. . . . Replete with adventure and harrowing tales. . . . There is drama aplenty, with backstabbing by everyone—American, Mexican and Indian. . . . It has all the components needed to make for an epic, and it reads easily. . . . True to his nature, Groom breathes life into the complicated players of his story. . . . An intrigue-filled account. . . . If you like a tale of high adventure, a fun read that is action-packed and informative, then pick up Kearny’s March. . . . Provides a big-picture view of the motivations of men and the nation writ large at a transformative time in this country’s history, while painting a sterling portrait of not only a time but a place—the early American West.”
—The Washington Independent Review of Books
“Energetic, enthralling narrative history. . . . Written with novelistic appreciation for character and ambition, Groom’s military histories are vibrant, kinetic, and popular.”
“An intriguing, international drama. . . . Groom brings to life the events of 1846-47.”
“A masterful blend of scholarly research, colorful description, and a confident, enthusiastic style of narrative writing that adds freshness and immediacy to a true-adventure saga.”
—Alabama Writers’ Forum
“Valuable, lively, brave in scope, and fast-paced. . . . Despite the fact that the subject is a relatively conventional military history, Groom has done it extravagant justice.”
“Galloping popular history, guaranteed to entertain. . . . Groom follows Kearny’s 2,000-mile march from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to California, providing wonderful stories about the soldiers’ progress through a rugged, wildly changing landscape.”
The versatile author of Forrest Gump as well as several military histories such as Vicksburg, 1863, Groom brings to life the events of 1846–47 that transformed northern Mexico into the American Southwest during the Mexican War. He highlights General Stephen Kearny's Army of the West and the taking of New Mexico and California, Captain John Charles Fremont's expedition to California and his administrative battle with Kearny, the Mormon Battalion attached to Kearny's army, Colonel Alexander Doniphan's capture of Chihuahua, and the civilian emigration horror of the Reed-Donner overland wagon train disaster. Groom's narrative of national political scheming and the constant threat of British involvement in the Mexican War creates an intriguing international drama. VERDICT Groom is at his best using personal details culled from original sources to spice his capable narrative of the smaller battles, such as the Taos Pueblo uprising in New Mexico and the Battle of San Pasqual near San Diego, where rebellious Californios who were lancers nearly defeated Kearny's Army of the West. Highly recommended for both public and academic libraries.—Nathan E. Bender, Albany Cty. P.L., Laramie, WY
Manifest Destiny fulfilled: Groom (Vicksburg, 1863, 2009, etc.) spotlights four journeys during two tumultuous years in American history that marked a "stupendous westward shift."
Did the United States bait Mexico into a war in 1846? Groom spends little time debating the justifications for or the morality of this controversial clash. Rather, he focuses on how the war accelerated an already notable westward migration by Americans across the continent. The day after Congress's declaration, President Polk ordered General Stephen Kearny to capture Mexico's northern-most provinces, territory that would become Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and California. Groom follows Kearny's 2,000-mile march from Fort Leavenworth, Kan., to California, providing wonderful stories about the soldiers' progress through a rugged, wildly changing landscape. Kearny's march was only the most conspicuous example of the western exodus. Also on the move was the "most famous man in America," the Pathfinder, John C. Frémont, who believed he had discretion in the event of war with Mexico to seize California, a severe misunderstanding that put him in eventual conflict with Kearny and subjected him to a controversial court-martial. The Latter-Day Saints, too, were headed west. Fleeing persecution, stalled in Nebraska, Brigham Young used the money raised from the enlistment of the Mormon Battalion—whose trek on behalf of a U.S. government that suddenly needed them was, unlike Kearny's, all on foot—to finance the Mormon's passage to Utah, "the single greatest human migration in American history up until that time." Meanwhile, snowbound in the High Sierras, the Donner party descended into cannibalism. Relying heavily on letters, official reports and journals, Groom darts in and out of these four stories, his quick rhythm mimicking the agitation of a vast territory whose conquest profoundly altered the boundaries and character of the nation.
Galloping popular history, guaranteed to entertain.