The year is 1916. The enemy, Pancho Villa, is elusive. Terrain is unforgiving. Through the mountains and across the long dry stretches of Mexico, Napoleon Childs, an aging cavalryman, leads an expedition of inexperienced horse soldiers on seemingly fruitless searches. Though he is seasoned at such missions, things go terribly wrong, and his patrol is suddenly at the mercy of an enemy intent on their destruction. After witnessing the demise of his troops, Napoleon is left by his captors to die in the desert.Through him we enter the conflicted mind of a warrior as he tries to survive against all odds, as he seeks to make sense of a lifetime of senseless wars and to reckon with the reasons a man would choose a life on the battlefield. Olmstead, an award-winning writer, has created a tightly wound novel that is as moving as it is terrifying.
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The year is 1916. The enemy Pancho Villa, is elusive. The terrain is unforgiving, the intense heat and dust both relentless and overpowering. Through the mountains and across the long dry stretches of Mexico, Napoleon Childs, an aging cavalryman, leads an expedition of inexperienced horse soldiers on seemingly fruitless searches.
Napoleon has weathered the storms of battle with a toughness that has become like a second skin, with the Rattler, a horse who’s as flinty and seasoned as he. But this time, Napoleon can’t control one of his young soldiers who has a penchant for reckless, dramatic actions—and who singlehandedly, in his desire to prove himself, makes a move that is the beginning of the end. Before long, Napoleon’s patrol is at the mercy of an enemy who is intent not only on killing Napoleon’s men but on something much bigger: avenging a brutal act.
Robert Olmstead describes the experience of battle so viscerally that the reader feels the fear, the danger, and the dread. With the precision of a master, he tells the harrowing and transfixing story of the last of these intrepid warriors.
Robert Olmstead is the author of eight previous books. Coal Black Horse was the winner of the Heartland Prize for Fiction. The Coldest Night was a finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Far Bright Star was the winner of the Western Writers of America Spur Award. Olmstead is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and an NEA grant and is a professor at Ohio Wesleyan University.
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