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Stallion Gate (1986)

por Martin Cruz Smith

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5581031,986 (3.28)7
In a New Mexico blizzard, four men cross a barbed-wire fence at Stallion Gate to select a test site for the first atomic weapon. They are Oppenheimer, the physicist; Groves, the general; Fuchs, the spy. The fourth man is Sergeant Joe Pena, a hero, informer, fighter, musician, Indian. These four men -- and a cast of soldiers, roughnecks and scientists -- will change history forever.… (mais)
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Smith published this book directly after his big hit, 'Gorky Park.' However, it never achieved that much success. Reading it, I can see why. It's an interesting concept, but not necessarily wholly successful.
It's an historical novel about a Native American man, Joe Pena, in the US military who is assigned to work with Oppenheimer on the Trinity Project. (the nuclear bomb). Pena's been fished out of a jail cell due to his ties with Oppenheimer, and is really expected to spy on the man, whom his superior suspects is a traitor.
Although the book comes *this* close to being a thriller, it really isn't. It's more of a rumination on racism, suspicion, poverty, ambition, violence, and, of course, love.
It's a very tense book, but the tension is more of an overarchingly oppressive aura than the tension of impending action - we, of course, know what happened at Trinity/Stallion Gate, so the outcome is not really in doubt.
This was not a bad book, but it was not my favorite by Cruz Smith. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
good novel @ N. Mexico setting up bomb Indian chief; army scout — ? ending

In a New Mexico blizzard, four men cross a barbed-wire fence at Stallion Gate to select a test site for the first atomic weapon. They are Oppenheimer, the physicist; Groves, the general; Fuchs, the spy. The fourth man is Sergeant Joe Pena, a hero, informer, fighter, musician, Indian. These four men -- and a cast of soldiers, roughnecks and scientists -- will change history forever.
  christinejoseph | Feb 5, 2016 |
I can’t honestly say if I would recommend this book to anyone. I picked it up because it was set in Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project. I find this area of history fascinating and have read several works of fiction on the same topic before. I did not find the main character interesting at all. He seemed cold and sterile. I enjoyed the historical characters like Oppenheimer and Fuchs more. I don’t know if it is just the writer’s style, but this book left me feeling rather unfulfilled. ( )
  LISandKL | Apr 14, 2014 |
Pretty solid historical mystery set at Los Alamos during the Manhattan project. No Renko, but a number of other interesting characters. ( )
  ehines | Feb 28, 2014 |
This book is set in Los Alamos, New Mexico at the time that the Manhattan Project was trying to develop the nuclear bomb. Little did I know when I picked this book up that I would be visiting Los Alamos later that year. It was fascinating to see the place where all those scientists came up with the solution to the war in Japan. I had never realized what a massive project it was and how quickly it came together. This book is more about Joe Pena, a sergeant who is the official driver and bodyguard for Dr. Oppenheimer, than about the building of the bomb. That said, there is a lot about what went on in that remote community that was perhaps not as much as secret as the Army thought it was.

Joe Pena was a Pueblo Indian who grew up in the Santiago Pueblo near Los Alamos. When he was young he was given the job of teaching a young Jewish boy from New York how to ride a horse. That boy was Robert Oppenheimer who went on to lead the Manhattan Project. When they needed a place to build and test the bomb he thought of the remote mesa that he had ridden with Joe. And he requested that Joe be his driver and bodyguard. Joe had knocked around the States since then as a boxer and jazz pianist. He was forced to join the Army when he and some fellow musicians tried to give an impromptu concert on a military base. He was sent to the Phillippines and made it out of there after the Japanese landed. Back in the States he had an affair with an officer's wife and got thrown in the brig. That's where Captain Augustino, chief of security in Los Alamos, found him and offered him the chance to get out to work at Los Alamos. In addition to his official duties he wanted Joe to spy for him.

Joe seems to be right in the centre of everything at Los Alamos. He drove Oppenheimer to the place that became Ground Zero for testing the bomb. That spot was known as Stallion Gate because of the mustangs that would be rounded up by the Indians in the area. For a sergeant he certainly had access to a lot of secret material. Augustino was convinced that there were spies at Los Alamos and he thought Oppenheimer was one. He also thought that Dr. Anna Weiss, who had known Oppenheimer when he studied in Germany, was another. When Dr. Weiss and Joe became lovers Augustino was pleased because he thought Joe could keep close tabs on her.

Joe does discover a spy but not one that Augustino was interested in. And it is true that there were spies for the Russians at Los Alamos. In fact, I suspect that a lot of this book is based upon the truth. It's a fascinating story about a fascinating time in history told by a writer who can deliver. ( )
  gypsysmom | Oct 4, 2013 |
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In a New Mexico blizzard, four men cross a barbed-wire fence at Stallion Gate to select a test site for the first atomic weapon. They are Oppenheimer, the physicist; Groves, the general; Fuchs, the spy. The fourth man is Sergeant Joe Pena, a hero, informer, fighter, musician, Indian. These four men -- and a cast of soldiers, roughnecks and scientists -- will change history forever.

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