Book Review: The Mexican-American War (Westward Ho!)

The Mexican-American War (Westward Ho!), by Emily Raabe

Although this book is a very short one, at only 24 pages, it manages to include the Texan War of Independence as part of the context of the Mexican-American War, thus increasing the temporal scope of material and making it impossible that such a small volume like this one could ever manage to successfully cover the scope of material about the war as a whole.  For the most part, this book does not try to deal with the full context of the war, placing the conflict as part of America’s manifest destiny and the search for land and then giving a bit of a superficial account of the happenings in Texas and Mexico that marked the course of the conflict.  If this is a book aimed at early readers about the war, it does a disservice to teachers who are going to have to correct the message that this book provides.  There are a lot of statements that this book has that were fought over at the time and are even now, like the spot of where the war began or the popularity of the cause of joining the United States among Californians.

This book is about 24 pages long.  It begins with “trouble in Texas” where the author discusses how it is that Texans declared their independence and won it from Mexico over the course of a war which involved interesting legal and cultural issues that would prove important later on.  After that the author looks at the Mexican-American War as an example of neighbors at war, but while it discusses the American victory it does not point out how lopsided that victory was, does not give a scope of the travels of the American army to reach their objectives in the various fronts of the war, and does not give a look at the Mexican side at all.  The book then discusses the end of the war without conveying just how hard it was for the Mexicans to give up any of their land to the hated yanquis, and how much bad blood was caused by such a disastrous fate.  The book then ends with a glossary, resources, index/word count, and notes for the reader, although one would hope that the basic language here would not be too hard for any readers.

One thing that is clear is that a book which has only 24 pages, much of them photographs, is not going to be able to include a lot of nuance.  The book gives no sense of the divisions that were present within both Mexico and America at the time, presenting both sides as more or less unified, and it does not give a scope of the logistical challenges faced by the Americans or the daring nature of the attack from Veracruz to Mexico City, which was viewed at the time by such military experts as the Duke of Wellington as being immensely risky to the point of immense folly.  If Mexico seems like an obviously weak nation to Americans now, that was not the case in the 1840’s, where Europeans had a much higher view of Mexican fighting capability or a much lower view of American fighting capability than ended up being the case.  This is a book that can be read profitably, but only if its statements are supplemented by much more discussion and a great deal more detail than this book has the space or the inclination to provide.  In many ways this book is so sloppy as to be immensely surprising, not including a great deal of detail about many aspects of the war that are of interest to readers.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in American History, Book Reviews, History, Military History and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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