The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 79, July 1975 - April, 1976 Page: 241

Book Reviews

begun to fill the near-void in Mexican War literature that existed prior
to 1960.
The two books here under review are welcome additions to this growing
body of work, though neither adds much to existing knowledge or prevail-
ing interpretations of the Mexican War and related events. K. Jack Bauer's
book is one in a series of twenty-one works projected by Macmillan on
American wars and topical aspects of American military history. This no
doubt explains why Bauer's work is devoted almost entirely to military
events. He devotes less than forty pages of text to the origins of the war,
which he explains in a thoroughly orthodox way. Mexican recalcitrance
caused the war. President Mariano Paredes's refusal to negotiate with the
American envoy John Slidell was, according to Bauer, the chief cause of
the conflict. The author gives virtually no attention to the complex diplo-
matic background. He has not utilized David M. Pletcher's splendid study
of pre-war diplomacy, but that is probably because Pletcher's work ap-
peared too late for him to use it. There is however no such excuse for
Bauer's ignoring Frederick Merk's discussion of the boundary dispute in
The Monroe Doctrine and American Expansion (1966). Instead, Bauer
refers us to the "balanced summary" of that dispute in Connor and Faulk's
North America Divided, the "balance" of which this reviewer questions
(p. 15, n. 21). These caveats aside, this book is after all a military history,
and a good one. Bauer lauds Winfield Scott as one of the great American
generals, but is somewhat ambivalent about Zachary Taylor, who is said
to have had "deficiencies as a strategist" (p. 85), but who is treated with
rather more admiration after his success at Buena Vista. One chapter is
devoted to the domestic aspects of the war, Bauer clearly supporting Presi-
dent Polk and labeling anti-war critics of the president as "radicals" (pp.
358-359). The fifteen chapters devoted to military affairs are copiously doc-
umented with both printed and manuscript sources. The style is lucid, and
numerous maps enhance the clarity of Bauer's descriptions of the various
battles. Logistical support and the Mexican terrain and climate offered
greater problems for the Americans than did the Mexican army. Of the
latter we learn very little, for the book gives us, like most work on the
Mexican War by American writers, a one-sided view of the conflict, though
Bauer's book is not marred by the anti-Mexican bias of many of his prede-
John Edward Weems is a "popular" historian who has produced a work
intended, it would seem, for the casually interested reader rather than the
specialist. Weems understands and sympathizes with the Mexican predica-
ment both before and during the war, though not to the extent of absolving


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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 79, July 1975 - April, 1976, periodical, 1975/1976; Austin, Texas. ( accessed June 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.

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