It was an infamous day when, under a scorching Mexican sun, the United States Cavalry went into action mounted not on fine, sleek horseflesh but in Model T Fords. This is the story of events leading up to and beyond that memorable day when bandits raided a U.S. border outpost. The time was 1916, during the Punitive Expedition, when some 100,000 National Guardsmen were mobilized to defend America. Among them were six members of the Philadelphia Light Horse, a men's military club to which only the most well-born and wealthy scions of the most well-born and wealthy were elected.
It was a rascal turn of fate that sent them to train at Glenn Springs, Texas. For there they met what they never had before -- Lt. Stanley Dinkle. Here was a cavalryman down to the shine on the seat of his breeches, and the collision between one Dinkle, two Tin Lizzies, and six Dapper Dans from Philadelphia was as epic as their intimate encounter with the enemy. War is hell, boys. Cheerio!
Delving back into research material he used in his first bestseller, They Came To Cordura, Glendon this time put a very funny, comedic spin to some of the misadventures which happened during the largely unsuccessful Pershing Punitive Expedition into Mexico to chase Pancho Villa and his guerillas. Occurring just prior to America's overseas involvement in WW I, this training exercise of a campaign was also the first time the U.S. Army became mechanized. Hence -- The Tin Lizzie Troop.
The Tin Lizzie Troop almost became a movie directed by the late actor, Paul Newman, in 1979. The screenplay was polished, location scouting had been done in Arizona, and actor Anthony Perkins was to play Lt. Dinkle, with additional casting about to commence, when Warner Brothers pulled the money plug on Newman's and other stars production company, First Artists, suddenly. Too bad, for it would have been a funny, period action comedy with great roles for a bunch of young actors who might have become stars in it.
Here's a few more great reviews....
"A savagely ironic novel....Ordinarily war is no laughing matter, but it is when Swarthout writes about the whimsical misadventures of these Beau Brummels. Beneath the laughter there is of course the seriousness that pervades everything Swarthout writes." Murrah Gattis, Los Angeles Times
"The Tin Lizzie Troop is a funny novel based on an actual incident in the Mexican-American border campaign of 1916 during which 100,000 national guardsmen were called up to defend the nation against raiding Mexican bandits. It was also the first war in which the U.S. Cavalry went into action not on fine, sleek horseflesh, but in Model T Fords....Swarthout's new novel is the kind of story which may make it to the screen." George Near, Abilene, Texas Reporter News
"A charming, comical fictionalized version of the very unpublicized, unhistorical first time the U.S. Army ever went into action on wheels...A whimsical melancholy undercuts the dazzling pace and farcical scenario." Kirkus book reviews
"This is funny--just plain funny as hell--at times, but people are shot and have their throats slit and people do die and the Philadelphia Light Horse members learn an unforgetable lesson. And that is what makes this a believable novel and not just another funny book about military incompetence and incompetents."
Stanley Gilliam, Sacramento Bee
"The introduction of mechanized warfare, the last days of the U.S. Cavalry and a Victorian love story combine to make a novel that is both amusing and sentimental without being syrupy...Many of Swarthout's novels have been made into movies and in this one, where the commander's statuesque girlfriend is kidnapped by bandits and a town burned, there seem to be the makings of a motion picture...Swarthout uses enough facts and cavalry lore to put together a story that could have happened. The border war was supposed to have been a gentleman's war, the last one. Young men learned, as did their grandfathers in the Civil War, that 'war is hell.' It is a good book with enough warm humor to keep from being too grim. This novel looks like another winner for the author."
Books of the Sunday New York Times
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