A Ballad of Love and Glory

by Reyna Grande. Inspired by real events, this fascinating historical novel is set during the Mexican-American war and tells a lesser-known story. In 1846, fed up with ill-treatment from their superiors, a band of Irish immigrants desert the U.S. Army to form the St. Patrick’s brigade, fighting for Mexico under General Santa Anna. The novel focuses on one of these men, John Riley, and his relationship with Ximena, a Mexican nurse. After the Texas Rangers killed Ximena’s husband years before, she devoted herself to Mexico’s cause during the war. John and Ximena’s relationship is passionate but fraught with complications, not least the wife and children John still has in Galway. This is a sweeping but nuanced look at the harmful American attitudes toward both Irish immigrants and Mexicans, the folly of colonial conquest, and the political corruption that helped doom Mexico’s army.