EL PASO

Winston Groom

Three decades after the first publication of Forrest Gump, Winston Groom returns to fiction with this sweeping American epic.

Long fascinated with the Mexican Revolution and the vicious border wars of the early twentieth century, Winston Groom brings to life a much-forgotten period of history in this sprawling saga of heroism, injustice, and love. An episodic novel set in six parts, El Paso pits the legendary Pancho Villa, a much-feared outlaw and revolutionary, against a thrill-seeking railroad tycoon known as the Colonel, whose fading fortune is tied up in a colossal ranch in Chihuahua,

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Three decades after the first publication of Forrest Gump, Winston Groom returns to fiction with this sweeping American epic.

Long fascinated with the Mexican Revolution and the vicious border wars of the early twentieth century, Winston Groom brings to life a much-forgotten period of history in this sprawling saga of heroism, injustice, and love. An episodic novel set in six parts, El Paso pits the legendary Pancho Villa, a much-feared outlaw and revolutionary, against a thrill-seeking railroad tycoon known as the Colonel, whose fading fortune is tied up in a colossal ranch in Chihuahua, Mexico. But when Villa kidnaps the Colonel’s grandchildren in the midst of a cattle drive, and absconds into the Sierra Madre, the aging New England patriarch and his adopted son head to El Paso, hoping to find a group of cowboys brave enough to hunt the Generalissimo down.

Replete with gunfights, daring escapes, and an unforgettable bullfight, El Paso, with its textured blend of history and legend, becomes an indelible portrait of the American Southwest in the waning days of the frontier

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  • Liveright
  • October 2016
  • 480 Pages
  • 9781631492242

Buy the Book

$27.95

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About Winston Groom

Winston Groom is the author of, among other books, Forrest Gump, Conversations with the Enemy (Pulitzer Prize finalist), Shiloh 1862, and The Generals. He served in Vietnam with the Fourth Infantry Division and lives in Point Clear, Alabama.

Praise

“[Groom] combines military savvy with storytelling skill for a satisfying saga pitting an American railroad tycoon against Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa … An engaging epic that could be headed for the best-seller lists and then the big screen. This is the big one that fans have been waiting for, and they’ll grab it up like they would a delicious box of chocolates.”Booklist (starred review)

Discussion Questions

1. When we first meet Arthur Shaughnessy, he receives a telegram from his father stating, “See if you can handle it; when we first meet Pancho Villa, he is remembering the night he witnessed Halley’s Comet—a sighting he interpreted as a bad omen. How did these first impressions set the tone for your reading? What did you anticipate?

2. Consider the significance of place: the juxtaposition between cities and countries, the vast landscapes, the wildlife, the extreme weather. How does the setting speak to greater themes of the novel?

3. The Shaughnessy men make a game out of racing to Mexico, the Colonel by train and Arthur by plane. Later in the novel, they find themselves in a very different race to save the children. What does this irony say about the characters?

4. Pancho Villa says, “You see, Mexico is a strange place. The things we do don’t always make sense to you Americanos, but that’s not the important thing. The important thing is that they make sense to us.” What other moments in the novel could this quote apply to?

5. Racism plays a significant role throughout El Paso, with characters experiencing it to varying degrees. Colonel Shaughnessy, for example, is both a victim and an offender. How does racism inform the way different characters move through the world? Are perceptions altered?

6. Everyone wants to get their hands on Pancho Villa. Who has the highest stakes for finding him? Who did you find yourself rooting for? Against?

7. The misanthropic satirist Ambrose Bierce and the young journalistsocialist John Reed butt heads upon first meeting. What does their relationship say of the time period? What does it say of the younger and older generations in the novel?

8. How did your perception of Pancho Villa evolve throughout the book? Do you sympathize with him at any point?

9. How did knowing—or discovering in the end—that many of the characters were real people affect the way you read the story? Did the epilogue surprise you?

10. Why do you think the Colonel sacrifices himself in the end? Could this have been avoided, or was it crucial?