Book Review: A Glorious Defeat by Timothy J. Henderson

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A Glorious Defeat.

The Bottom Line

A Glorious Defeat: Mexico and its War with the United States is well-written and well-researched and does indeed offer a fresh perspective on the Mexican-American War: it has much more information about the Mexican point of view that most other histories do (although it does not sacrifice entirely the American side of the story). It's not a typical military history in that descriptions of battles are very short and low on detail: the monumental Battle of Buena Vista, for example, is summed up in one paragraph.

A Glorious Defeat is recommended for those who want a balanced view of the war and its causes and especially for those who want to know more about Mexican politics during that time.

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Pros

  • The book is short: only about 200 pages, and well-written.
  • A Glorious Defeat often takes the Mexican perspective on the war,unlike other histories.
  • It offers a complete description of politics on both sides leading up to and during the war.
  • The book has a large section on the Texas Revolution.

Cons

  • Battle descriptions are very short.
  • Interesting historical details are often ignored.

Description

  • Contains detailed description of the politics on both sides of the border which led up to the Mexican-American War.
  • It’s heavy on politics and short on military details: this style may be preferable to many readers.
  • Well-written, it’s an easy read as histories go.

Guide Review - Book Review: A Glorious Defeat by Timothy J. Henderson

A Glorious Defeat is a good book for those who want to read about the Mexican-American War without getting bogged down in the details of battles, troop logistics, marches, etc.

It bills itself as being written from the Mexican point of view: this is not entirely the case, as it does include much about American Presidents Polk and Jackson and their policies.

Still, Mexican politics does take a center stage, especially the enigmatic Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, one of Mexico's most charismatic (and most crooked and incompetent) leaders.

Some may be disappointed to find that the book is as much about Texas and the years 1836-1846 as it is about the 1846-1848 Mexican-American War: on the other hand, that's precisely the period when the causes of the war were brewing. One drawback: interesting historical details are often ignored: for example, the St. Patrick's Battalion, a Mexican army unit comprised mostly of Irish deserters from the American army, is not mentioned.

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