Read Saint Patrick's Battalion by James Alexander Thom Online


In a monastery built by Franciscan monks on the site of an Aztec war god’s temple, a rogue battalion of cannoneers prepares to make its final stand along a strategic road to Mexico City. Reviled by its enemies and lionized by its allies, Saint Patrick’s Battalion will fight under an emerald green flag with the fury of the proud and the damned. And as James Alexander Thom’sIn a monastery built by Franciscan monks on the site of an Aztec war god’s temple, a rogue battalion of cannoneers prepares to make its final stand along a strategic road to Mexico City. Reviled by its enemies and lionized by its allies, Saint Patrick’s Battalion will fight under an emerald green flag with the fury of the proud and the damned. And as James Alexander Thom’s extraordinary new novel reaches a shattering climax, the reader hurtles into a collision between true loyalty and true betrayal–and between the best and basest reasons for war.Narrated by two soldiers on opposite sides of the Mexican-American War of 1846, Saint Patrick’s Battalion tells the true but little-known story of an Irish immigrant who deserted from the U.S. Army and was joined across enemy lines by hundreds of comrades. Driven by the abuses of Protestant West Point—trained officers and the realization that they were attacking fellow Catholics, John Riley and his San Patricios abandoned their adopted country and took their place proudly alongside the dashing Hidalgo horsemen and stolid native Indians who were being used by the Mexican army as cannon fodder against the foreign invaders. Though hopelessly misled by the vainglorious Santa Ana, and facing such future military legends as a brooding young Ulysses S. Grant and the brilliant captain Robert E. Lee, Riley and his fighters were responsible for an enormous number of American casualties–and would eventually pay a brutal price for their treachery.Its narrative foreshadowing America’s Civil War, Saint Patrick’s Battalion asks haunting questions about American expansionism, racism, and the machinations of a war that began before it was declared. From horrific depictions of cannonade warfare to the quiet corners of doubt, courage, and love in men’s hearts and minds, James Alexander Thom’s novel takes us on an astounding adventure into beautiful, harsh Mexico–and dramatically chronicles a crucial, bloody chapter in the making of America....

Title : Saint Patrick's Battalion
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780345445568
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 304 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Saint Patrick's Battalion Reviews

  • Nick
    2019-02-19 14:05

    A good historical novel about an awful incident in American history. My only minor complaint is that it's so heavily based on one particular non-fiction work [Rogue's March, by Stevens, I think] that, having read the book, I could recognize the specific passages being referenced. Mr. Thom openly credits the reference source, and does an excellent job on the fictional passages, but I wish he had broadened his sources a bit, so that it didn't feel like a fictional rewrite of a specific book.I especially liked the two teens in the story, and the framing device used to put the tale into historical context. The story of the U.S. soldiers who deserted to fight on the side of Mexico in the war in the 1840s is overlooked in older historical works, and this is one of several that have helped bring the story at least partway into the light.

  • Herman Padilla
    2019-01-31 07:57

    Another good historical fiction this time about the Mexican American war. Unusual in that the narrative view is from the perspective of two children one on the Mexican side and one on the American, I really enjoyed that, and the research was excellent. I knew a little of that war, now I feel much better informed and have a desire to read more about it. Very compelling story of race, religion, politics, and war. Four and a half stars not sure why it didn’t reach the 5 category for me maybe because it wasn’t such a compelling page turner that I couldn’t put it down, which is usually what a 5 star book would be. Very, very good description of battle though gives a good feeling of the horror and of some of the racist brutality of a part of the US officer core at that time, makes me wonder why we haven’t renamed Ft. Bragg after someone else more deserving of that honor. I think this is an important book because so few Americans know anything about this period of our history we know so much more about the Civil War where the young officers of this book became the Generals in that one. I would be remiss if I don't mention the Irish who were placed in such a terrible position by the US Army that resulted in hundreds of them defecting to the Mexican side this book is their story and it's a very compelling story one that is full of tragic events, the United States politics in this story of manifest destiny is shown in a very dark light one that we should be ashamed of if we knew of it.

  • Nina
    2019-01-23 10:00

    An historical novel about the Mexican-American War of 1846, which is a war barely mentioned in history classes. The story is told from the perspectives of two young men, one on the Mexican side and the other American. The real life hero was John Riley, an Irish Catholic who defected to Mexico with dozens of his countrymen after being treated so badly by the American officers, simply because of being Irish and Catholic. Robt. E. Lee, U.S. Grant, and Lew Wallace were all there, cutting their teeth on battle strategy. The author is a Hoosier, so there was much mention made of Wallace and the Indiana regiments. A nice quote from the Mexican to the American: "California and New Mexico, even Texas, are yours in name only, you should understand. The Mexican people will take all that back, Senor. Not suddenly or by force. In the long time. It is yours only for a little while."

  • Drtaxsacto
    2019-01-22 07:18

    This is an inventive novel about the Battalion of Irish (and German) soldiers who fought for the Mexicans in the Mexican War of 1846 told from the perspective of a camp boy named Patrick Quinn and a cadet in the Mexican military academy (Augustine Juevera). It alternates between the musings of the Quinn kid in his diary and Juevera's description of the Mexican point of view of the events that eventually led to the capture and execution and humiliation of the soldiers who left the US army to fight with the Mexicans.There is a lot of history presented here in a story which often follows the real events surrounding the struggles of John Riley - who was the commander of this irregular brigade. The Irish in the US army were the subject of a lot of harsh treatment (as were many Catholics from other countries). They were looked down upon by the US born officers. Riley deserted the US army before the Mexican war started- which is one of the reasons that Gen Winfield Scott spared his life after he was captured. He is revered in Mexico with a special monument erected to him and the other Irish martyrs in the plaza of San Angel. The book goes through the Mexican campaign and the tensions between Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott. It also points out that the war was a training ground for many of the key figures of the Civil War. Among other things the novel points out that RE Lee was quite successful in outflanking the Mexican army in a couple of key battles.The book is also chock full of interesting historical facts - for example, that Samuel Morse was a virulent anti-Catholic. When you do a search on Morse you can actually find some of his tracts that he wrote in the 1830s.I enjoyed this book a lot.

  • Dale
    2019-01-25 06:07

    A disappointmentPublished by Ballantine Books in 2006.To start, let me establish my bonafides as a fan of Mr. Thom's work. Three of his novels sit on a shelf less than two feet from this computer. I have the featured review on one of his novels (The Red Heart). Three or four of his novels are in my classroom library. I actually designed a long-term project for my world history classes using historical fiction with his books in mind, and I told him so when I met him at a state-wide conference for social studies teachers. So, I approached St. Patrick's Battalion with much hope. Instead of his usual quality, I found this book to be simplistic, with less detail and bent on beating two points home time after time: the Irish were treated brutally and shamefully by the U.S. army during the Mexican War and the Mexican War was an unjust war.Thom makes it clear in the opening dedication and acknowledgments that he is against the Iraq War and quite clearly he is drawing analogies between the two. However, Thom never really gets off of his twin focuses on the unjust war and the unjust treatment of the Irish. He never gets to his real strengths in his other books - bringing the reader into another world and teaching us about larger movements in history, but also about the day-to-day lives and goings on of our ancestors. Thom rarely gets beyond the superficial and develops the characters and that is a shame - and a loss to Thom's loyal readers because when his books are good they are fantastic...Read more at:

  • Tim
    2019-02-14 10:14

    Very much worth the read to find out about a little known facet of the US-Mexican war of the 1840s.At the time, the Irish had been one of the larger immigrant groups coming to the US (and soon the numbers would soar due to the famines in their homeland), but were routinely treated as scapegoats and troublemakers. Apparently the US military provided opportunity for many who had no other great options, and the armies residing in Texas, also had significant numbers. Army officers were just as biased against the Irish, and abused the soldiers routinely.While President Polk schemed to expand US borders - manifest destiny - by provoking conflict with Mexico, the Mexican military reached out to the Irish soldiers - promising them respect and land, not to mention the prospect of living in a sister Catholic country. Many of these soldiers were not US citizens to begin with, and began to flee from the abuse in the US ranks.It is this story - of a battalion of Irish soldiers who became a crack artillery force - that the author uses as a vehicle to tell the story of the US-Mexican war.Fascinating, well done, though there was just a bit too much monologue by the author giving his views of that war, military hubris, and prejudice that seemed to become wearying.I give the author real credit, however, for writing of this fascinating and dark aside of a significant and controversial American expansion.

  • Doc
    2019-01-26 08:15

    I enjoyed learning about a bit of history--the San Patricios, a mostly Irish artillery unit in the Mexican army during the Mexican-American war--that most Americans know little to nothing about. That war was a proving and training ground for many who later served as senior officers in the Civil War, and the book provides some glimpses of U.S. Grant an R.E. Lee as young officers.I lived in northern Mexico for a few years during my school-kid years--and for all that it is nearly forgotten here, the Mexican-American War is still an important, well-remembered part of Mexico's history. (We would probably remember the war better if it had been we who were invaded and defeated.) I also heard often about "Los Ninos Heroes," the boy heroes, young cadets who died when the Americans took the fortress of Chapultepec outside of Mexico City. Oddly, I don't remember ever hearing about the San Patricios or their Irish commander, so this book was something of a revelation to me.This book provides a good overview of the war from both sides, as seen by two young boys. I was most surprised to read of the harsh cruelty with which many American officers, especially West Pointers, treated their Irish soldiers, driving many to desert to the San Patricios.My only complaint, as I listened to the audio book during my commute,is that the narrator, when he was speaking as the main Mexican character, consistently mispronounced several Spanish words.

  • Brian
    2019-02-01 11:53

    i got this book a long time ago, and i kept it because i thought it was a work of nonfiction about the st patricks brigade - a group of irish immigrants that defected from the united states army during the mexican-american war in the 1830's. and it was about that, but it was a novel. something i couldve learned if only i could read clearly says a novel in script on the front.i noticed this before i started reading it, but plunged into it anyway. because it started out good. it just devolved and by 3/4 of the way through it i didnt want to read it any longer. it was also at that time that i went to powells and bought some books that i have wanted to read. the combination didnt i started smoking cigarettes again and braced myself for the finish. the problem is the dumb mexican narrator. he just isnt very likable and it is written from the perspective of him talking to me. if he and i were in a conversation i wouldve walked away long before he ever started making sense.the other problem is that, since its a novel - and i wanted to read nonfiction, i dont know how much or how little of this to believe. i guess i should just act like the way american history books do and pretend that the st. patricks brigade never existed and that this was just a not very good work of fiction.

  • George
    2019-01-21 11:17

    A VERY EXCELLENT READ.James Alexander Thom’s novel about the ‘San Patricios,’ the large number of Irish-born soldiers who deserted the U.S. Army and fought for Mexico, during the Mexican-American war (1846 – 1848), entitled ‘Saint Patrick’s Battalion,’ is an extremely interesting and enlightening tale about real people, events, circumstances and attitudes, that is very well and cleverly written. I found the device of telling the story through the eyes of two young boys, from either side of the Rio Bravo—one relating the tale contemporary to the action, the other looking back from fifteen years later—very entertaining and effective.Recommendation: I really enjoyed reading this story and highly recommend it. It is a different look at (a very unpopular) war, and a study of the fears and prejudices used to justify cruelty. “San Angel, Mexico * Sept. 10 1847” “Faith and if I live a hundred years, may I never, ever see again such a show of vicious hatred as that I saw today. I would never have imagined that men who deem themselves civilized could take such delight in their cruelty.” (—Pg. 228, Hardcover edition.)

  • Tom D
    2019-02-04 09:13

    I've read more than a few war stories, but this was the first story I have read that was told through the eyes of a child. I do know there is other war books told from a child’s perspective, but I haven't read them and I think such books are too rare. There are also too few novels centered around the events of the Mexican-American war. So, there are these two fairly unique features of this book, which appealed to me. Of course, JA Thom always puts together a good story. There are several sub-plots going on here including the persecution of Catholics in the US army during the 19th century, camp life with traveling armies. The sub-plot most interesting to me focused on the dynamic personalities of junior officers that would play a huge role in the War Between the States some years later.

  • Marcie
    2019-02-09 13:50

    This is probably my least favorite of the many books I have read by James Alexander Thom. Perhaps because I listened to it on Audible and found the reader a little annoying. I had never heard of St. Patrick's Battalion which was a group of Irish soldiers who became disenchanted with the American military leaders they were fighting under in the Mexican-American War of 1846 and deserted to the Mexican Army. In the Mexican Army they were respected and became great warriors for the Mexican cause. We should know more about this war and that it caused America to conquer the northern part of Mexico to claim as its own.

  • Renee Yancy
    2019-01-31 11:55

    Did you ever wonder about the Mexican actor Anthony Quinn? I did. How the heck did a Mexican get a last name like Quinn? It happened to be my surname, too. This book explains it all. How a group of Irishmen forced into the Union Army, many of them straight off the boat from the Old Country, went AWOL after months of cruel treatment at the hands of American officers. They went over to the Mexican side of the Mexican-American War. Most of them happened to be in the artillery unit. And so St. Patrick's Battalion was born. A fascinating look into a little known historical event.

  • Don
    2019-02-13 11:16

    Written primarily as the diary and drawings of camp-boy Padraic Quinn, as well as through the observations of Mexican cadet Augusten Juvero, this novel illuminates a true story of the Spanish-American War. In April 1846, Irish-American soldier John Riley deserted with fellow immigrants to serve the Mexican Army as the San Patricios. This engaging tale offers many comparisons with modern warfare.

  • Bubba61909
    2019-02-07 12:03

    This book has shown me what the Irish soldiers went through during this period. It is a shame for the way they were treated, but it is a part of history. I like the way the book (using an audiobook) bounced between two separate accounts of what was going on. That way you saw the change in Quinn's mood towards what was going on. I recomend this book to anyone who wants to learn a little history.

  • Art
    2019-01-29 13:59

    Outstanding book to see the Mexican War from another view point.I liked the part about the Irish soldiers, Zachary Taylor getting busted in the mouth and got back on his horse and rode off.Very detailed.Good read.

  • Stuart
    2019-01-25 14:10

    Very good historical novel about the Mexican War, a period sadly under-represented in both history and fiction, and moreover focused on a little-known but telling aspect of that war, the story of the Irish soldiers who deserted the US Army by the hundreds and went over to serve on the Mexican side.

  • John
    2019-02-10 12:08

    A decent introduction to one of the United State's unmentioned wars - the U.S. conquest of Mexico in 1840.

  • Jim
    2019-02-09 08:48

    An enjoyable little listen about a war I wasn't very familiar with.

  • Emily
    2019-01-27 10:04

    learning about the st patrick's battalion (thank you david rovics) gave me some irish pride, and reminds me that insurrection CAN happen here! i look forward to learning more

  • Kathy Clarius Nickolich
    2019-01-20 09:07

    I never heard of The St Patrick's Battalion until hearing an NPR broadcast about the book of the same name by James Alexander Thom. An historical novel taken from a part of the Mexican-American War involving Irish immigrants deserting the American army to fight with Mexico. The fictional narrators of the book, one Mexican and one American bring this very real part of our history to life. So interesting and enlightening, loved it.