Author: Roger Higgins
Publisher: Solas House Fiction
If you are not
familiar with the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), Roger Higgins'
Billy Gogan Gone Fer Soldier is a must read and should be on the
shelf of every student of American history.
The novel is the second in the award-winning Billy Gogan series, and as mentioned on the back cover, Higgins debut novel Billy Gogan American has been honored by the Hollywood Book Fest, the International Book Awards, the New York Book Festival, Reader's Favorite, Best Book Awards, and the Independent Author Network. No doubt the second novel in the series will probably garner as many awards.
Billy Gogan Gone Fer Soldier continues the compelling story of an Irish immigrant who, at the age of fifteen, lands in New York in 1844. The second volume, which will later form part of Billy's memoirs, recounts his harrowing experiences and adventures following the tragic death of his friend and companion, Mary Skiddy during the Great Fire of New York. At the age of sixteen, broke and without work, Billy enlists in Uncle Sam's army in 1845 to fight the Sassenaugh (English or Protestant) in Oregon but finds himself instead stationed in Texas which was at the time the preamble to the Mexican-American War. A war that was justified based on the principle of the “Manifest Destiny,” the conviction that God intended North America to be under the control of the Americans. The war would eventually establish the boundaries between Mexico and the United States.
The ambitious superbly crafted narrative triumphs in immersing the reader in the harsh reality of the conditions of the Mexican-American War as perceived by one soldier and depicts its evilness, atrocities, daring back-channel negotiations, chaos, terror, fear as well and brutality with graphic ferocity. It stands as a memorable story of war at its most emotional and painful. As Billy states: “It didn't matter whether we were doughboys (infantry), bowlegs (cavalrymen) or redlegs (artillerymen), we were all naught but mere chattel of the United States Army by virtue of voluntary servitude.” It should be mentioned that Billy lied about his age and passed himself off as being twenty-one, the legal age that one could enlist.
Unfortunately, often forgotten and overlooked is the Mexican American War and to describe the novel as historical fiction would not do it justice, and it should not be reduced to such a ready-made category. It is a rewarding and impressive work, intricately plotted, well-researched, as it expertly blends fiction and fact evidenced by the fluid mix of fictional and non-fictional legendary military figures. Many of the more well-know historical figures would achieve prominence several years later in the Civil War and to provide readers with some background information concerning these characters, a brief description of each appears at the beginning of the novel.
Higgins keen ear for dialogue coupled with his story-telling acumen makes the reader feel that he is listening to the yarn on someone's front porch rather than reading it, and thus will surely live on in one's imagination long after the book is put down.