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Far Bright Star

Far Bright Star

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Published by Workman Publishing
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.
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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Published by: Workman Publishing on May 26, 2010
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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T
hus far the summer
o 1916 had been a siege o wrathy wind and heated air. Dust and light. Sand andlight. Wind and light.There was drought and the land was parched and dry and the country bleached, burned out, and urnacelike. Atrst, dogs attended the troopers, but then they experienced aplague o feas, so the order went out to shoot the dogs.It was 125 miles south o the international line in ColoniaDublán where the expedition had established its headquar-ters. They were well supplied. They shipped in tons o mate-rial by rail, truck, and mule team and employed thousands o civilian workers. The cantinas and whorehouses were open allnight long and the only hardship, other than being there, wasriding out each day to patrol the dry dusty roads. They werein search o Pancho Villa and his bandits who on March 9 au-daciously attacked Columbus, New Mexico, burning, looting,killing, and they’d been hunting him ever since.But everywhere they went it was the same story. They justmissed them a day ago, an hour ago, the next high valley, thenext mountain peak, a cave that did not exist. By most mea-sures the expedition had been a ailure.
 
2
robert olmstead
His brother’s job was to turn out as many horses as possiblein service to the U.S. Army, while his was to turn out as many horsemen as possible. He took his men out every day and ledthem over country o all kinds, to teach them every plateau,arroyo, bajada, canyon. He had little aith in their ability andeven less in their capacity or improvement.He remembered Bandy’s lips so cracked and blistered itwas near impossible or the boy to eat and when he spokehis mouth was too swollen to orm words enough to makesense. Every one o them had a case o the piles rom so many hard days in the saddle. The seat o Turner’s pants was spottedblack where they’d bled into the cotton material and wouldnot wash out.Each morning the red dawn came and all day long was theblazing and deadening heat, but the night could be reezingcold with a swing in temperature o thirty degrees betweenhigh noon and midnight.They wore their peaked Stetsons low on their oreheadsand still the light so bright they spent their days squint eyed,or staring through the color-tinted lenses o their goggles.There were wire-ramed glasses to purchase: deep green, rosecolored, and blue. But there was no blazing corona in the sky to see and only light as i there was no head or brain or mind,but only the idea o light.He remembered these as the conditions o their lives whenthey departed expedition headquarters that white chalky morning to hunt the wild beeves. He remembered the morn-ing itsel and its dim blue light and upon waking the decisionhe made to begin another day.This is what he remembered o those days in Mexico and

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