El Paso is Winston Groom’s first work of fiction in almost 20 year since Forrest Gump. It is a brawny, sprawling novel, part legend, part history, of outlaws, revolutionaries, railroad tycoons, kidnappings, and daring rescues. While Europe plunges into the Great War, the Mexican Revolution intrudes on the still wild American southwest. When railroad tycoon John Shaughnessy, known as the Colonel, learns Pancho Villa has stolen cattle from his million-acre ranch in northern Mexico, he forms a party-like excursion to Mexico in his private rail car with his family and chauffeur tagging along. Son Arthur flies his candy-apple red German-made Luft-Verkehrs across country hoping to beat everyone to El Paso, the gateway into Mexico.
The Shaughnessy troop arrives at the hacienda, only to encounter chaos in the wake of Pancho Villa’s brazen raid. Shaughnessy’s foreman is killed and the grandchildren are kidnapped. When the Colonel’s fiery telegrams to President Wilson meet with indifference, he forms Shaughnessy’s Partisan Raiders to rescue the children. Woven into the rescue mission are colorful stories of the soon-to-be movie cowboy Tom Mix as Villa’s aide, the Marxist journalist John Reed, and writer Ambrose Bierce. In a masterful battle scene leading to Villa’s defeat, none other than Lieutenant George Patton and General John Pershing lead the charge. Groom’s epic narrative is a hefty yet entertaining page-turner, at times funny, heartbreaking, emotional, and brutal. An involving intricate story vividly told. You won’t be disappointed.