El Paso is a richly detailed novel set at the start of the 20th century, and with characters drawn from history. Although Groom's novel is well researched and detailed in terms of culture, he chose to write a fictional novel, and as such took liberties with the timeline of events he references to make a good story. A strong story, but if you were hoping for a cattle drive or revenge western, you might look elsewhere.
This book which has it all--love, loss, betrayal, intrigue, conflict, trigger-happy, powerful men, with some fascinating historical characters! Pancho Villa, General Patton, railroad tycoons, bull fighters, strong women, adorable children--so many twists and turns taking place in the wild west territories of Texas and Mexico. It is a bit long, and drags just a bit in places, but you'll want to keep traveling through to see what happens to these engaging characters.
Good story telling. Though not a historical fiction, the book introduces several historical characters and events from the early 20th century Mexican revolution, including fierce Pancho Villa and his revolutionary army. An adventuresome old industrialist Colonel Shaughnessy and his family become the reflection of the United States enterprising spirit, both for their (waning) wealth and their tenacity. The two men, Villa and Colonel, fight for what they value the most, and their fight is mostly close and personal.
The book did so well with story-telling that sent me to the library for follow up on the period's history, on both sides of the border. The male characters are better defined than the female ones, with none of them too deep. It's a cowboys, villains, and Indians wilderness saga that takes us to the deserts and the mountains of North Mexico. We are entertained by a few quirky characters and multitude of events, including bullfight and fiesta, but the ultimate winner is the landscape.
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