Billy Gogan Gone Fer Soldier by Roger Higgins

An excellent story, well researched, wonderfully detailed, and compelling reading.

This book is the sequel to the author’s first book, Billy Gogan: American, in which orphan Billy is sent from Ireland to America on the eve of the 1844 Irish Famine. Living by his wits, and doing what he has to, to survive, Billy quickly learns to grow up, establishes a life in Gotham, and eventually becomes an American citizen. However, after the tragic death of his good friend and companion Mary Skiddy, and the Great Fire of New York, it is a reflective Billy who, aged 16 decides to join Uncle Sam’s army, and this is where the second book really begins.

For anyone with an interest in this period of history this book will, I am sure be compulsive reading. The author uses a blend of real and fictional characters to make this an excellent history book, with clear maps and outstanding information on the movements of American army as they fought against the Mexicans in the American – Mexican war. However this book has one very important element which makes it stand out against other similar history books, and that is Billy Gogan himself.

Through his eyes, as a member of the Fourth Infantry we see a soldier’s life in the raw, no holds barred. We are with him as he watches his friends die, sometimes terrible deaths, feel his pain as he clears away the bodies, picks up their letters to loved ones and wipes their blood of his clothes. We read throughout this book numerous examples of his and other soldiers loyalty to their adopted country as they carry out unspeakable acts in order to win battles, on the commandments of their leaders.

Because of the way this book is written the social history of the time is an integral part of the story. It is fascinating to discover what life was like for those civilians who travelled with the soldiers, and as a result, whose lives became interlaced.

The author has, in this outstanding book, through the character of Billy Gogan, chronicled the battles which took place during this period of American history in a very human way. The very real hope on both sides from the soldiers and common people, that war would not occur, then the horrors which resulted when it did.

In summary, in writing this book, the author Roger Higgins has produced an excellent story, well researched, wonderfully detailed, and totally compelling reading.

About the Author: 

Roger J. Higgins and his wife reside in Chicago, Illinois, and they are immensely proud of their four children, one of whom is a serving U.S. Marine, and one of whom is Marine turned police officer (happily married to a wonderful high school chemistry and biology teacher). Their daughter is a nurse, and she and her husband (a retired Coast Guard officer) are the proud parents of a baby boy. Their youngest son is an aspiring doctor. As Mrs. Higgins has patiently observed to her husband when he ruminates about the trials and tribulations of raising children, it was together that they went four-for-four with their children, hitting safely at every at-bat. Not a bad day in the batter’s box.

Roger was born in England, in the County Cheshire, where he learned early of the orange-striped Cheshire cat, which disappears, leaving only its grin, full of teeth and gums. Roger emigrated with his parents and younger brother to the United States when he was 6 ¾. When his mother registered him at the local elementary school, he saw fit to wear his English grammar school uniform, which looked a lot like Harry Potter’s, except his cap was gray with purple piping and topped by a purple button, and he wore gray short trousers, gray knee socks and a purple clip-on tie with his dark gray blazer. After his mother finished registering him for school, the principal gently asked whether he would like to leave the tie and cap with her for the day and pick them up after school. Roger demurred. He was fortunate enough to retain both tie and cap (which were never worn again) on the walk home from school.

At the advanced age of ten, Roger taught himself the art of swearing, a skill he found useful in his thirty-odd years of playing rugby, where he was noted for his stone hands, his lack of size for certain positions and lack of speed for all the rest. As a young United States naval officer serving on a guided-missile destroyer many years ago with the lucky number “13” as her hull number (where he met some of the best friends a man can be lucky enough to have), he also learned, as did Captain Horatio Hornblower two centuries earlier, that sometimes having fifty-five oaths at your command can be entirely inadequate to the occasion.

Roger learned the art of leadership from his ships’ commanding officer and executive officer, who together led the tired, old ship, which was a bit of a laughing-stock along the waterfront, to win the Arleigh Burke award as the best destroyer in all of the Pacific Fleet. Roger served another fifteen years after that, having had during that time the privilege of being the fire control officer for the U.S.S. Missouri’s 16-inch guns, and thus the only naval officer in the world (at that time) under the age of thirty proficient in the ancient–and wonderfully obsolescent–art of major caliber naval gunnery.

Roger became a lawyer after retiring from the Navy with a small pension fit to pay the property taxes. After clerking for a Tax Court judge, who taught him the value of telling your story so as to win your reader to your side, Roger worked for a number of very large law firms, eventually becoming a partner at a firm with the grandest bankruptcy practice of them all. Roger greatly admires the practice group leader’s philosophy of practicing law, which is to get the best outcome possible for your client, never re-trade on a deal, and if you must stab someone, don’t stab him (her) in the back; look the person in the eye and then stab her. You’ll be treated the same way, when the time comes. Oh, and never sell your reputation. Once sold, you can never buy it back again.

Roger continues to practice law at a much smaller and less grand law firm and to write novels to his own taste. He is having a wonderful time doing so.

 

About the Book:

In Billy Gogan Gone fer Soldier, Billy Gogan enlists in the U.S. Army, only to be forced to battle a new enemy on the eve of the Mexican-American War. The fearsome and sadistic Sergeant Hoggs’s reign of terror is cut short, however, by a young second lieutenant named Ulysses S. Grant.

Billy and his companions are part of the biggest army assembled by the United States in decades, which has been ordered to the banks of the Nueces River to defend Texas. But the army is both tiny, hardly 3,000 combatants, and woefully unprepared for war. The army’s beloved commander Zachary Taylor, known to his bluebellies as Old Zach, slowly whips the army into shape over the winter of 1845-46, as disease ravages officer and soldier alike.

In the spring, the army is ordered south to the northern bank of the Rio Bravo. All is not well. The army’s savage discipline causes scores of desperate doughboys to desert and swim across the Rio Bravo to an imagined paradise. War begins badly for the Americans. But Old Zach eventually wins a pair of victories that send the Mexican army scuttling south to Monterrey. Billy is then sent on a mission with the Texas Rangers, which ends in a tragic war crime.

Billy Gogan Gone fer Soldier ends on a lonely rooftop as the bloody fighting on the savage first day of the Battle of Monterrey concludes in American defeat.

Billy Gogan Gone Fer Soldier is available from:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Billy-Gogan-Gone-fer-Soldier/dp/1609521374/ref=sr_1_2?qid=1552321154&refinements=p_27%3ARoger+Higgins&s=books&sr=1-2&text=Roger+Higgins

and

Barnes & Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/billy-gogan-gone-fer-soldier-roger-higgins/1127948358?ean=9781609521370

Decapitating the Union: Jefferson Davis, Judah Benjamin and the Plot to Assassinate Lincoln by John C Fazio

 

Thought Provoking…

Right from the beginning it is obvious that this amazingly thorough book has been very carefully researched by the author, John C. Fazio, who formerly had a successful fifty year career practicing law.

His retirement has given John C. Fazio the time he needed to devote to writing this book on a subject for which he has had, for a long time, a great fascination, the American Civil War and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. He looks in depth at not only the shooting of Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth, but the events surrounding it. Abraham Lincoln was watching a production of Our American Cousin, in the presidential box of the Ford Theatre on the 14th April, 1865 when he was shot. The following morning at 7.22 Abraham Lincoln died, one of the greatest men in American history had been murdered!

Being a student of history, and especially European and American history, with special emphasis on the Civil War, meant that he has accumulated an immense knowledge of the subject. He enjoys sharing this knowledge by teaching Civil War history at the Chautauqua Institution, writing numerous articles, and speaking about the subject. He is also a member, and former president of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable, and is active in the Lincoln Forum, the Western Reserve Historical Society, the Cleveland Grays, and the Surratt Society.

There is so much mystery surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, that out of the 16,000 books which have been written about this great man, over a hundred are dedicated to solely to this subject. However, accounts, and details of it, and the events around it, are surrounded in enigmas, mystery, theories, and littered with errors, so much so, that the author decided it was time for him to write this thought provoking book.

It is forwarded by the well-known historian Joan L. Chaconas, and then the author gives the reader a thorough background on events which led to a nation torn apart by conflict, and Abraham Lincoln’s murder. Finally he concludes with the imprisonment, trial and sentencing of all but John H Surratt, of the assassination group.

This book makes absolutely riveting reading, and I would imagine that this would be of immense interest to anyone studying this period of American history, as the author provides plenty of notes and references in the back. For me personally, the icing on the cake is the fact that it is liberally sprinkled with terrific photographs, copies of hand written notes, drawings, and portraits, which I feel are very important in this type of book.

About the Author:

John C. Fazio has a B.A. and J.D. from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. He now lives in Fairlawn (an Akron suburb) with his wife, Mary, who is retired after a career in public relations. Between them, they have seven children, all of whom have left the nest. John joined Mary in retirement in 2015 after practicing law for fifty years. He is a student of history, with an emphasis on European and American history and with an even greater emphasis on the most defining event in American history, the Civil War. He is a member of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable and has been its president. He is also a member of the Lincoln Forum, the Surratt Society, the Cleveland Grays and the Western Reserve Historical Society. He teaches Civil War history at Chautauqua Institution, frequently speaks on the war and other subjects before Roundtables and other groups and has written and published numerous articles on the war and other subjects. In addition, he has written Decapitating the Union: Jefferson Davis, Judah Benjamin and the Plot to Assassinate Lincoln, after five years of research and writing. The book was released in January, 2016.

 

About the Book:

More than a hundred books have been written about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, yet one of the few certainties about his death is that little about it is certain. The literature on the subject is replete with errors, theories and guesswork. This comprehensive work on the assassination and on the attempted assassination of other Northern leaders in the closing days of the Civil War, seeks to correct major and minor errors in the record, reconcile differences of opinion of historians and scholars, offer explanations for great unknowns and make sense of conspiracy theories. After a Foreword by the renowned historian, Joan L. Chaconas, it begins with the background of the conflict, threats and assassination attempts against Lincoln, black flag warfare, the Wistar and Dahlgren-Kilpatrick Raids on Richmond and the Confederate response thereto, and it ends with the incarceration, trial and sentencing of the assassin’s action team (except for John H. Surratt, who would be tried separately in 1867, and except that one of those tried was not really a member of Booth’s team) and an in-depth analysis of conspiracy. In between are chapters on the underground mosaic; Booth and his co-conspirators; the great kidnapping myth that concealed the planned decapitation of the United States government; the setting for assassination; riddles, conundrums, enigmas and mysteries relating to key players in the drama; carnage in the presidential box; Booth’s descent to the stage, declamations, broken leg, exit and escape; attempted decapitation of the government; the death of the President; Edman Spangler’s innocence; the pursuit of the fugitives; and the death of Booth. The author rejects the simple conspiracy theory and affirms the Tidwell, Hall and Gaddy thesis of the complicity of the highest levels of the Confederate government and its Secret Service Bureau. The author makes use of hundreds of sources to justify his conclusions and to give greater cohesion to the record of the events of April 14, 1865. The book has received dozens of reviews. Among them: 1. “…a must read for Civil War historians and enthusiasts.”–William John Shepherd, America’s Civil War. 2. “Everyone should have this one on their Lincoln bookshelf.”–Joan Chaconas, The Surratt Society 3. “I found every page an adventure. You cannot come to a decision on who ordered the assassination without reading this book.”–Joseph Truglio, Civil War News 4. “…probably the best (book) on the market on the American Civil War.”–Amazon Customer 5. “…very strongly recommended…”–Michael J. Carson, Midwest Book Review 6. “A brilliant contribution…”–Frederick Hatch, author of Protecting President Lincoln and other works 7. “Long overdue. John Fazio’s lucid narrative puts Booth’s plan to decapitate the Union front and center…Decapitating the Union is both educational and entertaining…Give it five stars.”–Edward Steers, Jr., author of Blood on the Moon and other works 8. “If you enjoyed Ed Steers’s Blood on the Moon, you must read Decapitating the Union…”–Howard G. Anders, Jr. 9. “…perhaps the most (significant) work on this topic ever written.”–Amazon Customer

Available from Amazon in Paperback https://www.amazon.com/Decapitating-Union-Jefferson-Benjamin-Assassinate/dp/1541095383/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1495014899&sr=8-1&keywords=decapitating+the+union

and Kindle format https://www.amazon.com/Decapitating-Union-Jefferson-Benjamin-Assassinate-ebook/dp/B01N4MC1M7/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1495014899&sr=8-1

and

Barnes &Noble in Paperback http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/decapitating-the-union-john-c-fazio/1120363992?ean=9781541095380