Books: Country of No Answers

THEY CAME TO CORDURA (213 pp.) —Glendon Swarthout—Random House ($3.50).

This is a study in the anatomy of courage. The specimens first dehydrated, then dissected by the author are U.S. cavalrymen of the 1916 punitive expedition against Pancho Villa. The setting is the arid hills of Chihuahua, and the enmity of the alien country itself becomes clear in the first sentences: "The land is carrion land ... A man wishes for a sound. It is a country of no answers."

The book's leading characters are, on the face of it, five heroes and one coward. Major Thomas Thorn—stocky, undistinguished, middle-aged—is the coward. Dur...

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