Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780395926178, 224pp.
Publication Date: May 1, 2005
The Diezmo tells the incredible story of the Mier Expedition, one of the most absurd and tragic military adventures in the history of Texas -- a country and a state, as Rick Bass writes, that was "born in blood." In the early days of the Republic of Texas, two young men, wild for glory, impulsively volunteer for an expedition Sam Houston has ordered to patrol the Mexican border. But their dreams of triumph soon fade into prayers for survival, and all that is on their minds is getting home and having a cool drink of water. After being captured in a raid on the Mexican village of Mier, escaping, and being recaptured, the men of the expedition are punished with the terrible diezmo, in which one man in ten is randomly chosen to die. The survivors end up in the most dreaded prison in Mexico. There they become pawns in an international chess game to decide the fate of Texas, and with their hopes of release all but extinguished, they make one desperate, last-ditch effort to escape.
A great crossover book with appeal for high school students. It will also interest readers of westerns and historical fiction.
RICK BASS’s fiction has received O. Henry Awards, numerous Pushcart Prizes, awards from the Texas Institute of Letters, fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, among others. Most recently, his memoir Why I Came West was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award.
"I loved the Diezmo. . .I loved the calm of the narrator even in the presence of death." --Terry Tempest Williams
"Rick Bass is one of our best writers. The Diezmo is further proof; a vivid, graphic, harrowing tale of wild men and bad blood, a fable universal and timeless in its application." --Kent Haruf
"Once in a long while there is a book I find myself buying again and again, because I have so many friends who should read it; this year, that book is without question The Diezmo. What a woeful and dusty and beautiful adventure; what a great and simple tale! For Mr. Bass writes with eyewitness precision, clear humility, and best of all, the generosity of the forgiven. The Diezmo extends his already considerable reach, and is the best of his many fine works." --Leif Enger
"Rick Bass's The Diezmo is the best literary adventure story I've read since Legends of the Fall. Full of unusual history, exciting events, timely ideas, and stunning wilderness scenery, The Diezmo is a wonderfully-told novel of the human capacity for survival in the face of the very worst that war can do to us." --Howard Frank Mosher
"[The Diezmo] contains many exquisite passages that will give the reader pause. . .A masterpiece." --Patty Lamberti Playboy
"Bass plays the English language like a stringed instrument...a ripping good tale." --Mike Shea, Texas Monthly
"Terrific...powerful...the lean beauty of Bass' prose...[is] gripping." --Adam Hill Los Angeles Times
"Compellingly effective." --H.W. Brands The Washington Post
"Succinct, evocative, and painterly...a surprisingly absorbing rendition of a terrible episode in American history." --Elizabeth Grossman The Oregonian