This is for Historical Tapestry's blog challenge - O is for Olmstead.
In 1916, the frontier of war for the American Army was not across the ocean but south, in the burnt deserts abutting Mexico. In Far Bright Star, a weathered soldier who has served in countless campaigns, heads out into the desert on what he imagines will be just another patrol. But he and the five men who accompany him, all mounted on the horses that the soldier loves almost more than the men, find themselves caught in a trap that they can only end with death - either their own, or that of the enemy.
The story has less of a historical feel than I expected, since so much of the action takes place out in the timeless hell of the desert. That said, history haunts the book in a subtle way, for the soldiers are all aware that a new war in Europe awaits them, and that their cavalry way of life is already extinct. The resulting book almost as the feel of a fable, with its terse prose reminiscent of Hemmingway, and its taciturn characters known by little more than their simple names - Extra Billy, the General, Xenophon. It was an unusual read for me and, given the difficult scenes it describes, not always comfortable. But it was interesting, and Olmstead does not shy away from showing the whole of his main character, moral failings and all, which I appreciated.