counter create hit The Milagro Beanfield War - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

The Milagro Beanfield War

Availability: Ready to download

Joe Mondragon, a feisty hustler with a talent for trouble, slammed his battered pickup to a stop, tugged on his gumboots, and marched into the arid patch of ground. Carefully (and also illegally), he tapped into the main irrigation channel. And so began-though few knew it at the time-the Milagro beanfield war. But like everything else in the dirt-poor town of Milagro, it w Joe Mondragon, a feisty hustler with a talent for trouble, slammed his battered pickup to a stop, tugged on his gumboots, and marched into the arid patch of ground. Carefully (and also illegally), he tapped into the main irrigation channel. And so began-though few knew it at the time-the Milagro beanfield war. But like everything else in the dirt-poor town of Milagro, it would be a patchwork war, fought more by tactical retreats than by battlefield victories. Gradually, the small farmers and sheepmen begin to rally to Joe's beanfield as the symbol of their lost rights and their lost lands. And downstate in the capital, the Anglo water barons and power brokers huddle in urgent conference, intent on destroying that symbol before it destroys their multimillion-dollar land-development schemes. The tale of Milagro's rising is wildly comic and lovingly ter, a vivid portrayal of a town that, half-stumbling and partly prodded, gropes its way toward its own stubborn salvation.


Compare
Ads Banner

Joe Mondragon, a feisty hustler with a talent for trouble, slammed his battered pickup to a stop, tugged on his gumboots, and marched into the arid patch of ground. Carefully (and also illegally), he tapped into the main irrigation channel. And so began-though few knew it at the time-the Milagro beanfield war. But like everything else in the dirt-poor town of Milagro, it w Joe Mondragon, a feisty hustler with a talent for trouble, slammed his battered pickup to a stop, tugged on his gumboots, and marched into the arid patch of ground. Carefully (and also illegally), he tapped into the main irrigation channel. And so began-though few knew it at the time-the Milagro beanfield war. But like everything else in the dirt-poor town of Milagro, it would be a patchwork war, fought more by tactical retreats than by battlefield victories. Gradually, the small farmers and sheepmen begin to rally to Joe's beanfield as the symbol of their lost rights and their lost lands. And downstate in the capital, the Anglo water barons and power brokers huddle in urgent conference, intent on destroying that symbol before it destroys their multimillion-dollar land-development schemes. The tale of Milagro's rising is wildly comic and lovingly ter, a vivid portrayal of a town that, half-stumbling and partly prodded, gropes its way toward its own stubborn salvation.

30 review for The Milagro Beanfield War

  1. 5 out of 5

    Arian

    This is my favorite damn book of all time ever. If you don't like it, I'm liable to punch you in the genitals. Ostensibly, the book is about a water-rights squabble in a small town in New Mexico. But the book is so much more: the differences between the Mexican and American cultures, believing in miracles, political dissidence, and all of the ridiculously awesome characters that the author breathes life into. There's Amarante Cordova, the ageless wonder who has been dying since birth, only to out This is my favorite damn book of all time ever. If you don't like it, I'm liable to punch you in the genitals. Ostensibly, the book is about a water-rights squabble in a small town in New Mexico. But the book is so much more: the differences between the Mexican and American cultures, believing in miracles, political dissidence, and all of the ridiculously awesome characters that the author breathes life into. There's Amarante Cordova, the ageless wonder who has been dying since birth, only to outlive many of his own children; there's one-armed Onofre Martinez, who claims that he lost his appendage to a butterfly; pugnacious Joe Mondragon, the pint sized protagonist who starts the whole squabble; Milo, his guilt ridden lawyer who has to reconcile his white American background with his Hispanic wife; Horsethief Shorty, the foreman at the Dancing Trout ranch and crony to main villain Ladd Devine III; and a whole assortment of special agents, water rights lawyers, body shop and plumbing shop owners, angels and car thieving senile grandmothers. The book unfolds in a blissfully organic, sprawling way. You'll follow different characters in different chapters, as they all deal with their own trials and tribulations, usually working at cross purposes with other characters. Things build to a climax involving the whole host of characters, and for a change in a town called Miracle, the good guys win one.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    I know The Milagro Beanfield War is a cult classic, but based on a cursory perusal of the reviews, I’d say it’s a book that you either love or don’t. I won’t say you love it or hate it because I found very little actual animosity toward it in the negative reviews. Those readers just couldn’t seem to get into the book. My feelings about the book are somewhere between the love and don’t love ends of the spectrum. For me, reading it was like an unsatisfying/unsuccessful romantic endeavor. Part 1 of I know The Milagro Beanfield War is a cult classic, but based on a cursory perusal of the reviews, I’d say it’s a book that you either love or don’t. I won’t say you love it or hate it because I found very little actual animosity toward it in the negative reviews. Those readers just couldn’t seem to get into the book. My feelings about the book are somewhere between the love and don’t love ends of the spectrum. For me, reading it was like an unsatisfying/unsuccessful romantic endeavor. Part 1 of the book was a bit tedious and confusing with the introduction of so many characters and backstory. Kind of like when you first start getting to know someone with whom you have an inclination to become romantically involved. You get a lot of information about the person’s family, friends, and past life, but most of it just sails past you because you want to know about the person rather than all the peripheral stuff. I came close to giving up on the book at this stage. The main reason I didn’t is because when you grew up in New Mexico and currently live here, it’s hard to admit that you’ve never read The Milagro Beanfield War or Bless Me Ultima or at least one Tony Hillerman book. (I finished Bless Me Ultima a month or so ago, by the way.) Once you get to Part 2…a little shy of a hundred pages in…things start to pick up. The actual story starts to progress and there’s some action that creates and builds the tension. There are still a lot of characters and backstory thrown in, but you can start to see more clearly how those contribute to the story. The primary characters also start to feel more real and personal. You’ve reached the part of the relationship where the two of you are getting closer. You share more personal information with each other. You start to understand how all that info about friends, family, and past life reveal to you more of who your potential partner really is. You become more comfortable with the physical aspects of your relationship…the touches, caresses, and kisses. As the story progresses through subsequent Parts, the humor of the beginning subsides and the tension builds through actions and deeper character development. There are two or three very moving "reflective" sections related to specific characters. At this point, it was hard for me to put the book down. In your relationship, you want to spend as much time as possible in the presence of the other person. The sexual tension is building and you’re eagerly and enthusiastically looking forward to your first night together. The tension of the story builds like a wave to the crisis point, but It never crests. It just resolves itself almost pathetically and washes up harmlessly on the shore. There’s follow-up to it, but nothing very satisfying as far as bringing any kind of closure to the story. You’ve had sex with the person you thought might be “the one,” but it was just sex. It didn’t bring you the closeness and soul-completing oneness you thought it would. You stay for the rest of the night because it’s kind of expected. You get together a few more times but you both realize things won’t work out because something undefinable is missing. When your friends ask how the relationship is going, you find it difficult to admit to them that, in the end, there was just no spark there...that their hopes for you happiness have gone unmet. I may at some point try another John Nichols book. He himself didn’t think The Milagro Beanfield War was his most profound work. If there’s enough of an ember left somewhere down the line, maybe I’ll try one of the two or three that he felt were the best reflections of what he strove to do with his writing.

  3. 4 out of 5

    J

    Que Viva Snuffy Ledoux! I read this book 35 years ago for the first time when I was fifteen years old. It remains one of my all time favorites. After re-reading - because one of my friends told me I reminded him of Amarante Cordova - and because I always considered myself to be more of a Jose Mondragon - the themes remain contemporary. They remind me why I consider this timeless piece of literature to be such a great demonstration of artistry and craftsmanship. Milagro Beanfield War is an ench Que Viva Snuffy Ledoux! I read this book 35 years ago for the first time when I was fifteen years old. It remains one of my all time favorites. After re-reading - because one of my friends told me I reminded him of Amarante Cordova - and because I always considered myself to be more of a Jose Mondragon - the themes remain contemporary. They remind me why I consider this timeless piece of literature to be such a great demonstration of artistry and craftsmanship. Milagro Beanfield War is an enchanting story, told by a man who has a deep and abiding respect for the people he wrote about. His descriptions of the colorful characters and the beautiful landscapes reveal a man who is faithful to describing northern New Mexico Latino culture with clarity and sensitivity to all their quirky nuances. Nichols reminds me why I love the northern part of the state so much. The rugged terrain is as breath-taking beautiful as its hard-scrabble inhabitants. I am convinced their vibrant culture and world view has been shaped by the land in which they live. Their ingenuity and tenacity are not as caricatured as you might be given to conclude according to Nichols' descriptions. Their bravado, sense of pride, chutzpah are not an exaggeration at all. Moreover, extraordinary things do happen up there and what is even more unusual is that is is not seen as anything out of the ordinary at all. Nichols does such a fantastic job of describing the terrain that he reminds me why I love Northern New Mexico - Taos in particular - so much. Plainly put, this story is entertaining, comical and it sheds light on yet another group of Americans whose peculiarities spice up an already delicious story. I felt a connection to all of the characters. However, if pressed to choose one, I believe my favorite would be the immortal Amarante Cordova who buys bullets for his antique .45 with food stamps. Aside from Pacheco's huge, white pet pig that continually escapes and wreaks havoc in Milagro, the cast of characters include; Joe Mondragon, the sawed-off banty rooster. The protagonist who unwittingly starts the war when he decides to irrigate his little bean field - of course the symbolism should not be wasted here as beans cause gas and Joe's little field caused a big stink. Bernabe Montoya, the tired though politically astute sheriff whose comic-tragic life is measured by making mountains out of mole hills and mole hills out of mountains, Seferino Pacheco, the illiterate old man who can nonchalantly critique Steinbeck, Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Juan Ramon Jimenez, Platero, Asturias, Garcia Lorca and Pablo Neruda but spends the lions' share of his time haplessly chasing down his wayward, errant pet pig, Onofre Martinez, the one armed enigma who lost his arm to a fleet of butterflies and whose claim to shame is marked by having a son become a state police officer, Charlie Bloom, the Harvard Lawyer cum honorary Chicano and publisher of a little news paper called 'The Voice of the People,' A host of bad guys led by the evil, Ladd Devine III, an equally pugnacious, little white man whose size belies his ambitions, and the women of Milagro who range from a pebble-tossing granny to loyal, devoted and equally nutty, delightfully powerful women. These characters represent the tapestry of Milagros' comedic bravado and cloaked angst with its temperaments and dispositions. I have read that some people do not like Nichols' depiction of the dominant culture and actually take exception to what has been described as the 'white man's burden.' Such detractors are really missing the point because the story is about a nostalgic look at a culture and way of life that is quickly waning. As a case in point, Onofre Martinez articulates the point quite eloquently (p 150)when someone makes an off handed comment about gringos; "'Wait a minute!' Onofre Martinez stammered excitedly, emotionally placing his hand on Ray Gusdorf's shoulder, 'This is my neighbor, and he is a gringo, not even a little bit coyote [half-breed:]. But he's been in the valley as long as I remember, and I consider him to be of my people. And that white man over there told us these things about the dam and the conservancy and showed us the maps, I consider him of my people too, even though he is a lawyer, even though he speaks funny Anglo Spanish you can hardly understand. But I believe he at least tries to speak the truth,and a lawyer who does that should get a big gold medal to hang around his neck. I don't consider Nick Rael to be of my people because he works against my interests... So, I don't believe this is a brown against white question. This is a only one kind of people against another kind of people with different ideas. There are brown people and white people on both sides...People are people...The brown people and white people on our side are better people because they are on the correct side, that's all..." While many of the antiheroes in this story happen to be Anglo and the protagonists are mostly Latinos, the story would not change if the protagonists happened to be a group of backwater whites who were facing similar circumstances. Consequently, I don't really understand why someone, anyone would get ruffled about a white author writing about bad white guys. Apparently, Lonesome Dove doesn't evoke the same sort of bristled criticisms and, for that reason, I find the attacks on John Nichols unwarranted. John Nichols has created a masterpiece, attentively woven with its muted colors of incredulity, tempered fatalism and brilliant splashes of hope. I sincerely hope his magnum opus is not discounted because he has the temerity to celebrate the true essence of what is unique about being an American; diversity. Finally, If you like magical realism, this book is perfect for you. ps: There's nothing wrong with being like Amarante Cordova - although I still consider myself more like Joe Mondragon. And, hey Tony! You are crazier that Pacheco's pig!

  4. 5 out of 5

    L.G. Cullens

    I remember this book more than I do many others, so it must have left an impression

  5. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    I was really enjoying this book for the first couple hundred pages, especially since I grew up watching the film and so I already had a huge affection for the story and the main characters. However, somewhere around page 300 I couldn't take it anymore. I don't know why everybody who pops into a scene has to have a lengthy backstory. It contributes nothing to my appreciation of a novel when the author digresses for five pages every time a new character, however insignificant, wanders onto the pag I was really enjoying this book for the first couple hundred pages, especially since I grew up watching the film and so I already had a huge affection for the story and the main characters. However, somewhere around page 300 I couldn't take it anymore. I don't know why everybody who pops into a scene has to have a lengthy backstory. It contributes nothing to my appreciation of a novel when the author digresses for five pages every time a new character, however insignificant, wanders onto the page. In the middle of the book absolutely nothing happens. The story doesn't move forward, the conversations about what to do or not to do about Joe's beanfield become repetitive, and rather than using this time to tell us more about the people we've already met, new people are introduced and given their five-page bios. Then everybody starts to look like a caricature, because they've each been allotted their several traits, their behavior in each situation is 100% anticipatable, and none of them seems imbued with the capacity to change. I don't find characters who have no progression very interesting, and that's all I found in this book. They work pretty well in a 2 hour movie, but I have less patience for them in a 630-page book. I wish John Nichols and his editors had realized that he had a damn good 200-page book on his hands. I don't understand why so much of the reading public has a high tolerance for authorial blather. But then, I'm a slow reader who enjoys reading slowly, taking my time to absorb the craft of great writing. Or, conversely, I can appreciate a book short on literary craft but well paced and devoted to telling a good yarn. You had a great yarn, Nichols. I'm happy that some moviemakers found it and extracted it from this overwrought and overwritten book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jessaka

    My friend Cathy and I went to Santa Fe and found that Robert Redford was filming this movie. So we decided to go watch them film. We got to the gate and I lied by saying that we were with the press, but then Cathy had to go and tell the truth. So, we didn't get in to see him. That night we were at a bar in Santa Fe and ran into the crew, and one of their members said that we could come to watch them film the next day. But alas, we were leaving town in the morning. The book and the movie were goo My friend Cathy and I went to Santa Fe and found that Robert Redford was filming this movie. So we decided to go watch them film. We got to the gate and I lied by saying that we were with the press, but then Cathy had to go and tell the truth. So, we didn't get in to see him. That night we were at a bar in Santa Fe and ran into the crew, and one of their members said that we could come to watch them film the next day. But alas, we were leaving town in the morning. The book and the movie were good, but not great, and this isn't about sour grapes.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Book Concierge

    In a New Mexico valley the power is held by one man and his company. Over the years Ladd Devine’s family has manipulated the indigenous peasant farmers, securing the majority of water rights for his proposed golf course / spa retreat while leaving the original residents with arid land, unsuitable for farming, or even grazing. So he’s been able to buy out the poor farmers securing more and more land and leaving less water for those that remain. Until one day Joe Mondragon decides to cut a break i In a New Mexico valley the power is held by one man and his company. Over the years Ladd Devine’s family has manipulated the indigenous peasant farmers, securing the majority of water rights for his proposed golf course / spa retreat while leaving the original residents with arid land, unsuitable for farming, or even grazing. So he’s been able to buy out the poor farmers securing more and more land and leaving less water for those that remain. Until one day Joe Mondragon decides to cut a break in the wall and divert water onto his late father’s field, so he can plant some beans. I've had this book on my TBR "radar" for a bajillion years and I don't know why I waited so long to read it. I really liked it a lot! The quirky characters, the message, the humor, the pathos, and the landscape all made this an especially moving book for me. I could not help but think of my grandparents - we always referred to their property as a "dirt farm" - dirt being their most reliable crop. They were on their ranch / farm well into their 80s ... even after my grandfather had two strokes. He just got up and kept caring for the animals, tending the orchards, repairing the truck, doing whatever it took to keep on living. So thank you, PBT Trim the TBR for finally giving me the "push" I needed to get to this gem of a novel. I can hardly wait to read it again! If I have any complaint about the book, it’s about this edition’s AFTERWARD, where the author begins with: Actually, I’ve sort of had it with THE MILAGRO BEANFIELD WAR. and goes on to explain how distressed he is that this is the only book people seem to remember him for rather all his other works, some of which he believes are superior. But my disappointment with his little tantrum doesn’t diminish my enjoyment of the book itself.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rheama Heather

    I'm always sad when I decide to give up on a book. It feels like euthanasia. But sometimes I have to grit my teeth and put the book down. This was one of those cases. I wanted to love The Milagro Beanfield War because of its quirkiness, but the sheer number of characters and amount of back story was overwhelming. I appreciate Nichols taking the time to create an entire town full of people, past and present, but he didn't need to include every single one of them in his final draft. At first it was I'm always sad when I decide to give up on a book. It feels like euthanasia. But sometimes I have to grit my teeth and put the book down. This was one of those cases. I wanted to love The Milagro Beanfield War because of its quirkiness, but the sheer number of characters and amount of back story was overwhelming. I appreciate Nichols taking the time to create an entire town full of people, past and present, but he didn't need to include every single one of them in his final draft. At first it was cute. By the time I was closing in on page 100, it was just exhausting. Rest in peace, people of Milagro.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Gregory Daily

    Great read and funny as heck. Points out that water is the life blood of the west. I think I met Joe Mondragon or his twin. I think I want to visit New Mexico.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Christine Boyer

    Whew! That was a long one! One of those massive, epic-style novels that we used to see so much of in the 1970s and 1980s. I feel like I've been living in the fictional town of Milagro, New Mexico for the last month - the time it has taken me to finish this! I visited New Mexico last summer and loved everything about it! This author did such a great job with setting that I was immediately transported back through his vivid descriptions. I also loved the quirky, multi-layered characters of the town Whew! That was a long one! One of those massive, epic-style novels that we used to see so much of in the 1970s and 1980s. I feel like I've been living in the fictional town of Milagro, New Mexico for the last month - the time it has taken me to finish this! I visited New Mexico last summer and loved everything about it! This author did such a great job with setting that I was immediately transported back through his vivid descriptions. I also loved the quirky, multi-layered characters of the town. Powerful storyline, too - kept it moving. The only reason I gave it 4 instead of 5 stars is that there were just TOO MANY of those quirky, multi-layered characters! There were about 65 names mentioned and seriously, about 30 that the reader had to really remember because they were part of all the events and plot action. It was totally unnecessary, and the author's editor should have jumped on that right away. Delete, delete, delete. I suppose the last thing to mention is that it was pretty political. Little farmer guy "good" vs. big corporate guy "bad". I thought there was balance and that it was portrayed fairly, and I didn't think it was too heavy-handed for either side, though I've heard people argue that it was. You read and decide! I thoroughly enjoyed it and would like to see the movie now.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    "You can't buy bullets with food stamps," says Nick Rael, the store owner of the one store in Milagro, New Mexico, when Amarante Cordova peals off four one-dollar stamps and carefully lays them on the counter. This absurd scene in The Milagro Beanfield War, the first novel in John Nichols' epic New Mexico Triology, serves well enough to illustrate the power of Nichols' voice and the authority of his narrative, but Amarante takes his bullets and shuffles off to stand guard over Joe Mondragon's co "You can't buy bullets with food stamps," says Nick Rael, the store owner of the one store in Milagro, New Mexico, when Amarante Cordova peals off four one-dollar stamps and carefully lays them on the counter. This absurd scene in The Milagro Beanfield War, the first novel in John Nichols' epic New Mexico Triology, serves well enough to illustrate the power of Nichols' voice and the authority of his narrative, but Amarante takes his bullets and shuffles off to stand guard over Joe Mondragon's controversial beanfield with a prehistoric revolver and a bottle of cheap brandy, envisioning an angel who in Nichol's words "Is no shining angel with a golden halo straight from Tiffany's... rather, a half-toothless, one-eyed bum sort of coyote dressed in tattered blue jeans and sandals, and sporting a pair of drab moth-eaten wings..." It is in scenes like this when Nichols exposes the magic underpinnings of Milagro that The Beanfield War is elevated from minor skirmish to massive global conflict... something in line with a Paradise Lost where the devil is a sawed-off unflamboyant man who systematically gathers up the souls of little ranchers and uses them to light his cigars and God is taking a really long siesta while Jesus is getting drunk with his wife and illegally irrigating a field of beans. I would list this as required reading for anyone who enjoys Steinbeck, Marquez, Cervantes, Castaneda, or Marijuana.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    How could illegally irrigating a small field of beans cause such chaos and mayhem? This is an uproariously funny book. I enjoyed the characters mini-stories throughout the book. I was charmed by the nature descriptions. Although this was set in New Mexico, it reminded me so much of the Colorado Rockeies where our family vacationed most of my life. I just borrowed the VHS tape of this movie from the library. It was directed by Robert Redford. Very Good. A few minor changes from the book, but true How could illegally irrigating a small field of beans cause such chaos and mayhem? This is an uproariously funny book. I enjoyed the characters mini-stories throughout the book. I was charmed by the nature descriptions. Although this was set in New Mexico, it reminded me so much of the Colorado Rockeies where our family vacationed most of my life. I just borrowed the VHS tape of this movie from the library. It was directed by Robert Redford. Very Good. A few minor changes from the book, but true to the spirit. Some of the incidents are even more hilarious when you see them.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Todd Hickman

    I enjoyed the sense of humor and the quirky, unforgettable characters. The young job corps guy (or whatever he was) was a real hoot, and I could put my self in the shoes of the people of Milagro, though I doubt if I would have been as polite about it as they were. A nice twist was that the more the system seemed to defeat Joe Mondragon, the more he seemed to win. I think I would like to visit northern New Mexico to see if the culture was really as he described it. Not that I doubt John Nichols, bu I enjoyed the sense of humor and the quirky, unforgettable characters. The young job corps guy (or whatever he was) was a real hoot, and I could put my self in the shoes of the people of Milagro, though I doubt if I would have been as polite about it as they were. A nice twist was that the more the system seemed to defeat Joe Mondragon, the more he seemed to win. I think I would like to visit northern New Mexico to see if the culture was really as he described it. Not that I doubt John Nichols, but I would like to see for myself. This is a great read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    I can't believe I'm saying this but the movie is better. The whole reason I wanted to read the book -- and why I put it off for so long -- is that I love the movie. I had the usual presumption that the book must be better than the movie but also feared it wouldn't be. The movie does a lot of what Nichols should have done. It distills what's good about the book into a more potent story. Instead of hauling in a hundred half-baked characters -- and at least a dozen one-off characters who unnecessar I can't believe I'm saying this but the movie is better. The whole reason I wanted to read the book -- and why I put it off for so long -- is that I love the movie. I had the usual presumption that the book must be better than the movie but also feared it wouldn't be. The movie does a lot of what Nichols should have done. It distills what's good about the book into a more potent story. Instead of hauling in a hundred half-baked characters -- and at least a dozen one-off characters who unnecessarily get backstories as full as the main characters -- the film whittles it down to a manageable crew that still represents the gamut of personalities and types. Where the novel could be richer, exploring the main players and their interactions in more depth, it settles for one bio for everyone, one or two identifying traits, then veers into repetitive arguing or slapstick. And the magic realism, which is so enchanting in the film and integral to its story, just hangs about the edges of the book as a kind of afterthought. Okay so this should be about the book rather than the movie. Here goes. The story itself is plenty solid for a novel of half the length but either Nichols doesn't trust it or is hellbent on writing a big book. It reads like he's trying to do Gabriel Garcia Marquez and John Irving and Joseph Heller all at once. But the language and imagery isn't as transporting as Marquez's, the drama not as potent as Irving's, and the comedy only an echo of Heller's. It all feels forced. Midway through the novel, the piling on of irrelevant characters and overwritten backstories overwhelms all charm the book had at the beginning. For just one example, the character Herbie seems to exist only to get batted around. Every time he shows up you know you're in for another luckless low-comedy adventure. Of course, it all turns out to be a set-up for a switcheroo success story at the end that you've seen coming from thirty miles away. The prose itself also gets to be a chore. The John Nichols of Milagro hasn't met an adverb he didn't like. There's no word so apt that it can't be dressed in three others. Nobody simply moans, they must moan miserably, dejectedly, mournfully, and usually all three at once. He can't write prettily but keeps blasting away at a description nonetheless. Here's one howler: '...her breasts, which were enormous, unbelievable, like albino watermelons with huge organically grown strawberries in the center....' As if the whole thing weren't absurd enough, he has to throw in ORGANICALLY GROWN? Good grief. But it's typical of his similes, whether he's describing women or landscapes. I have to credit him with not making the Milagro residents absolute angels and the wealthy characters utter devils, but they're still generally one-note personalities and in the wrap-up he does get a bit smug; particularly in the scene with the NM governor and greedy developer Devine where we're reminded -- as if we hadn't already gotten this -- that the developer is all about money and the governor all about votes. In contrast we're introduced to a brand new character (only 18 pages from the end now), the head of Health & Social Services, 'An overworked, frustrated, very decent woman...that directed a handcuffed agency that erratically dribbled out pennies to men, women, and children who could have used hundred-dollar bills plus bushel baskets of health care, an entirely different school program, a lot of understanding and kindness, and so on, ad infinitum.' Realistic, sure, but to the point of cliché. The mini-preachment there at the end is wholly unnecessary once we've seen the story play out. In the end, I have to thank Nichols for bringing characters like Amarante Córdova, Sheriff Bernie, Ruby Archuleta, one-armed Onofre Martínez, and Joe Mondragón into the world, but when recommending them to friends it'll be to watch the movie instead. It would be a shame to miss what there is to love about Milagro.

  15. 4 out of 5

    A

    The Milagro Beanfield War was one of those books that Goodreads thought I would like and I thought I should like. But I couldn't even finish. And I tried. I made it through slightly more than half of the book. And while I found the characters compelling and their plight interesting the lack of a good plot kept me from finishing. My reading of this book languished for over two weeks with a few pages at a time being read. FInally, I decided I needed a break, so I picked up another book and read it The Milagro Beanfield War was one of those books that Goodreads thought I would like and I thought I should like. But I couldn't even finish. And I tried. I made it through slightly more than half of the book. And while I found the characters compelling and their plight interesting the lack of a good plot kept me from finishing. My reading of this book languished for over two weeks with a few pages at a time being read. FInally, I decided I needed a break, so I picked up another book and read it in my usual 3 to 4 days. Then I tried to reseed my mind with the Milagro Beanfield War, but with no luck. I read yet another book and finally realized it was time to give up on this book. The Milagro Beanfield War presents an impowering political commentary on life in northern New Mexico, but fails to tell a story with enough plot and movement to keep the reader engaged. Maybe I will watch the movie. This might be one of those times when the movie is better than the book. I don't see that it could be a lot worse.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Milo

    ONE OF MY TOP 5 BOOKS OF ALL TIME........ Number one in the New Mexico Trilogy. Superb reading and funny as hell. Character development that is absolutely unique. Funny, moving, sensitive and educational. A real story of the plight of poor Northern New Mexican natives as the face the problems and costs of new development. Amarante, in his 80's and as lovable as can be sits quietly and talks with ghosts, Joe Mondragon accidentally kicks out a water dam and begins watering his father's field, ille ONE OF MY TOP 5 BOOKS OF ALL TIME........ Number one in the New Mexico Trilogy. Superb reading and funny as hell. Character development that is absolutely unique. Funny, moving, sensitive and educational. A real story of the plight of poor Northern New Mexican natives as the face the problems and costs of new development. Amarante, in his 80's and as lovable as can be sits quietly and talks with ghosts, Joe Mondragon accidentally kicks out a water dam and begins watering his father's field, illegally. This sets of a war between the locals and the developers who are supported by the Governor's office and their lawless enforcer. Barney the local sherif is a hoot as is the major and the college student who lives in a shack by Amarante. Made into a movie directed by Robert Redford and starring Christopher Walken and Ruben Blades. An amazingly good filming of a hard to address issue.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Miguel

    I found myself within the first few minutes of reading this book, laughing out loud. This has a particular appeal to me, because I am a native to New Mexico and a Chicano...but I would not necessarily say that it excludes others from understanding its very unique style. Perhaps it can be noted that if you do happen to hail from the southwest, its charm and originality, along with the added plus of some very comical Spanish create a very delightful bonus. Otherwise I recommend this book to any an I found myself within the first few minutes of reading this book, laughing out loud. This has a particular appeal to me, because I am a native to New Mexico and a Chicano...but I would not necessarily say that it excludes others from understanding its very unique style. Perhaps it can be noted that if you do happen to hail from the southwest, its charm and originality, along with the added plus of some very comical Spanish create a very delightful bonus. Otherwise I recommend this book to any and all. Behind the ridiculous stories of the some what demented town-folk of Milagro, is a story about the tragedy and greatness of a rural town in Northern New Mexico, and its estranged villagers (who are more like a family than peers), finding common cause in ousting corporate invaders. Oh... And DO NOT read this book just if your name happens to be Milagros and you happen to enjoy a generous helping of beans...it might be offensive, sexual, crude and downright disgusting.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Abigail

    Towards the close of The Milagro Beanfield War, the one-armed Onofre Martinez, drunkenly reflecting upon the flawed sort of angels that must protect the small town of Milagro, observes: "This place just reeks of crippled glory.” There could be no better epithet for this brilliant novel. A sprawling work, full of humor and pathos, and peopled with an unforgettable set of characters, whose human weaknesses and error are only occasionally punctuated by moments of greatness, it reads almost like a f Towards the close of The Milagro Beanfield War, the one-armed Onofre Martinez, drunkenly reflecting upon the flawed sort of angels that must protect the small town of Milagro, observes: "This place just reeks of crippled glory.” There could be no better epithet for this brilliant novel. A sprawling work, full of humor and pathos, and peopled with an unforgettable set of characters, whose human weaknesses and error are only occasionally punctuated by moments of greatness, it reads almost like a folk-epic, piecemeal in its construction, and yet somehow organically whole in its totality. Composed of endless vignettes, each of which offers a small gem of a short story, it is also an entirely coherent and satisfactory whole. Whether writing of the seemingly immortal old man, Amarante Cordova; of the comic-tragic Seferino Pacheco, the cultured illiterate forever chasing after his runaway pig; or of Joe Mondragon, the "pint-sized" troublemaker whose decision to illegally irrigate his beanfield would lead to such trouble; Nichols has a keen eye for the absurd, and a profound understanding of the complicated negotiations that occur between people and cultures. As he weaves his collection of tales together, Nichols returns again and again to some of the same themes. Among which are: the long-term effects of colonialism; the inequitable distribution of resources and resultant human misery; the difficulties of communicating, whether across racial, cultural, and gender lines - or at all; and the ways in which our better human impulses are so frequently derailed by weakness, of intellect or emotion. I will confess that I have a long history with The Milagro Beanfield War, which I first read at the age of twelve, and which remains, to this day, one of the few books that has ever made me laugh out loud. As someone who grew up surrounded by left-wing activists of one stripe or another; people who were prone to speaking, as Nichols himself does in the Epilogue to the Anniversary Edition, of "THE movement;" I do not think that Nichols overreaches in an effort to create "quirky" characters. The "truth" of some of his depictions was startling, even to my twelve-year-old self, and I felt as if I knew some of these people, fictional or no. Their cruelty, to each other and to the world around them, occasionally horrified me; just as their willful or unconscious inability to expand their narrow view of themselves, and of others, sometimes infuriated me. This holds true both for the "villains" and "heroes," none of whom are, as another reviewer here has pointed out, terribly likable. But intermixed with the many moments of human pettiness are instances of generosity and compassion. These fallible humans may not be transformed by the end, but they have had moments of transcendence.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Chana

    This is the second time I've read this book and it sure seemed shorter and funnier the first time around. I still found the funny parts funny, but probably not as funny as the first time. This time I was thinking about the author wondering if he was a combination of the lawyer Bloom and the volunteer Herbie G. The first time the book was a phenomenon, this time I was looking for the man behind the curtain. It is basically about how the State and the white people rip off the Spanish speaking subs This is the second time I've read this book and it sure seemed shorter and funnier the first time around. I still found the funny parts funny, but probably not as funny as the first time. This time I was thinking about the author wondering if he was a combination of the lawyer Bloom and the volunteer Herbie G. The first time the book was a phenomenon, this time I was looking for the man behind the curtain. It is basically about how the State and the white people rip off the Spanish speaking subsistence farmers by legal trickery to get the water rights and once they have the water rights, well they've got control and basically the whole ball of wax belongs to them and the brown people are hired on as minimum wage workers on the establishments set up by the white people. There is a certain status quo, with rumbling undertones. Then Jose goes and diverts the water illegally and waters his land and plants a bean field. That bean field becomes the symbol of the fight between those who have been ripped off and those who have done the ripping off. This edition of the book also contains an afterward by the author which was very interesting and worth reading. With this lukewarm review you might wonder why I read it again. Well, I remembered being totally charmed by Amarante Cordova. And I was rooting for Joe Mondragon all the way. As a reader I was invested in that beanfield. The characters are memorable and oh so flawed just like we all are in real life. The memories of those characters is what drew me in again. I would love to read the author's other books. Did you know there is a Milagros Mexican Folk Art Store near Pike Place Market in Seattle?

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mary Sue

    Milagro is a dying town In northern New Mexico. Water conservancy has routed their already minimal water supply to benefit big agriculture to the South and nearby resorts. On a whim that even he doesn't understand, feisty Joe Mondragon diverts the water to irrigate his small beanfield. In essence that was a declaration of war against the government and big money investors. Wonderfully colorful characters. Great sense of place. What a fun read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    This book is very funny. The small town full of characters who all know each other and all their relatives is a story told about how the poor fight against the rich developers -- and win!! Much to everyone's amazement. Must be a miracle.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Benj FitzPatrick

    By far it was one of the funniest books I've read (up there with Hitchhikers Guide), and it accomplished this while presenting a representative portrait of northern NM.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ronna Nussbaum-langley

    Published in 1974, this is one of my ALL TIME favorites. The writing is smart and it's definitely the funniest book I've ever read. Highly recommend it!!!!!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Marshall

    Funny as hell. Gritty, witty, dirty, and fun.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Danique Blankvoort

    You should read “The Milagro Beanfield War” written by John Nichols because it is successful novel. First and foremost, the novel truly captures the spirit of New Mexico culture, feisty with a modern Southwestern blend. The vivid imagery along with the mix of Spanish and Anglo culture creates a recipe for an enthralling plot that accurately portrays the essence of New Mexico. Secondly, Nichols’ usage of a drawn-out plot creates a plethora of tensions. Utilizing the common, but fitting, good guy You should read “The Milagro Beanfield War” written by John Nichols because it is successful novel. First and foremost, the novel truly captures the spirit of New Mexico culture, feisty with a modern Southwestern blend. The vivid imagery along with the mix of Spanish and Anglo culture creates a recipe for an enthralling plot that accurately portrays the essence of New Mexico. Secondly, Nichols’ usage of a drawn-out plot creates a plethora of tensions. Utilizing the common, but fitting, good guy versus bad guy war, Nichols establishes a well thought out storyline with plenty of time to progress. Lastly, the characters in the novel experience utmost development. The depth and knowledge of the characters are created through conflict, internal and external. Overall, the novel’s concept will intrigue you, but the development and representation of the characters will hook you. Joe Mondragon, the spirited main character, promptly establishes the external conflict for our character by illegally irrigating a beanfield. Unconventionally, this small, dreary patch of crops stirs up quite the ruckus between the citizens of Milagro and the higher ups. Quickly, Joe’s fellow peers and agriculturists rally together using the beanfield as the symbol of their rebellion against the loss of their land and water rights and refer to themselves as the Milagro Land and Water Protection Association. The wealthy business tycoons seek to retaliate against the small-town farmers by obliterating the field before the citizens impede their plans for a recreational development. The town undergoes a strenuous battle for their economic and political salvation. The riveting confrontation along with the dynamic and relatable characters shape up for successful novel. The New Mexican culture and atmosphere is ambiguous and complex. However, John Nichols accurately captures the environment with his use of intricate language and his representation of New Mexico weather and attitudes. In “The Milagro Beanfield War”, John Nichols writes, “. . . saying goodbye to his neighbors one by one while refusing to budge himself, until he wound up alone with the swallows and bluebirds and the crumbling houses whose rooms were full of tumbleweeds” (51). Nichols’ use of character dialogue in this section perpetuates the cliché, yet accurate, stereotype of the stubborn mentality seen numerous times in the novel, which precisely illustrates a New Mexican attitude that relishes in tradition. Nichols goes on to effectively portray New Mexico powerfully. Nichols states, “He held a profound tenderness for his people. His gente. His bunch of inbred, toothless, tubercular, flea-bitten, illiterate, vecinos, cabrones, and general all-around fregado’d jodidos” (116). Thus, Nichols’ works demonstrates the importance of blending Mexican culture with Anglo culture to shape the reader’s perceptions of the setting. John Nichols exquisitely presents the scene and culture of New Mexico with his blend of the native language with English and accurately depicts the traditional attitude of locals. The novel utilizes an interesting technique to build tension; a drawn-out plot. The lengthy buildup provides sufficient detail and information for the reader to make inferences while generating tension to the storyline. Nichols’ usage of long descriptions created politically charged side stories and vivid accounts from characters, only heightening the action-packed climax. Nichols writes, “What happened next none of the basketball players could later agree on. But a number of men. . . suddenly burst from the darkness and beat the living daylights out of Joe and his cousin and the two teen-agers” (154). The attack on Joe and his comrades fueled the fire to the rising tension in Milagro by adding raw emotion. Moreover, the game was a representation of the current predicament of the town as well as a foreshadowing of moments to come. Nichols’ use of a prolonged plot adds dimension and heightens the stakes in the storyline. Largely due to the considerable length in the development in the plot, the characters in the novel are given ample time to properly mature. The characters are consistently faced with troubling conflict, both mentally and physically. As a result, the characters undergo a subconscious change due to the decisions and actions they must take. The big business moguls, particularly Horsethief Shorty, experience moments of self-doubt. Nichols’ use of innermost personal accounts creates a sense of closeness to the characters and their issues. Dwelling on Shorty’s monologues, the reader is blatantly able to see him overcome his obstacles. Nichols allows the reader to see each individual character handle his or her own set of unique issues by either overcoming them, muddling through them, or ultimately succumbing to pressure. Nichols writes, “He didn’t like himself very much; he never had. And he had guessed he did not really love anybody at all. Too bad” (305). Ladd Devine, the corporate ringleader, has his breakthrough in this particular section. Devine realizes he only values materialistic items. Nichols, brilliantly, permits the reader to view the mighty and invincible Devine in a position of weakness. The usage of character development in even side characters contributes personality and profundity, which, in this case, produces greater substance to the prolonged plot through the insight of character’s trials and tribulations. After establishing reasoning behind the fact that “The Milagro Beanfield War” is successful novel, it is equally important to discuss the relevance in today’s climate. New Mexico very frequently becomes the forgotten state. However, John Nichols’ old school novel truly speaks volumes of true issues occurring in New Mexico, all while spinning an elaborate, humorous tale. Loosely based on events in Taos, New Mexico, Nichols’ novel captures the spirit of magical realism in the modern world. Nichols’ work accurately represents the Southwest in an undeniable manner unlike any other. In my own opinion, this fascinating novel was easy to pick up and hard to put down. The compelling twists, turns, and shocking events left me itching for more and, therefore, made this story a successful novel. “The Milagro Beanfield War” is certainly not your average book, but if you wish to read about the bitterness of a small, diverse community fighting for their salvation this is unquestionably the book for you.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    Although John Nichols has written some fifteen or more books, this is the one that counted. It stands out from the rest of his work as if from a Buddhist burst of contemplation. Let's face it, some writers hit the mark at once in a big way, and struggle the rest of their careers to come close to it again. No matter! The Milagro Beanfield War is a splendid book, well worth reading by anyone -- and me, no less, who will be in New Mexico within a few short weeks. I haven't laughed so hard for years Although John Nichols has written some fifteen or more books, this is the one that counted. It stands out from the rest of his work as if from a Buddhist burst of contemplation. Let's face it, some writers hit the mark at once in a big way, and struggle the rest of their careers to come close to it again. No matter! The Milagro Beanfield War is a splendid book, well worth reading by anyone -- and me, no less, who will be in New Mexico within a few short weeks. I haven't laughed so hard for years: For Nichols not only hit the mark, but he kept on hitting it -- again and again. The protagonist of this book is a rural community in northern New Mexico. For years, a group of developers led by Ladd Devine and his family have tried to tie up the whole area as a resort for gringos, while the Spanish population lost water rights, land, and anything else of value. Until -- that is -- Jose Mondragon decided to steal irrigation water for a beanfield. What looked like a simple law enforcement matter got more dicey by the day as the Spanish Milagrans decided they have had quite enough and flummox Mr Devine and his land schemes by standing their ground. At one and the same time, I can understand why Robert Redford made a film out of this book -- and I understand why Redford's film failed. What Nichols wrote in The Milagro Beanfield War was just too real for Redford's superficial progressive ideology.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Schoen

    It was pretty good. It kept me entertained, and there was, occasionally, poignant, beautiful prose reflecting on New Mexico, poverty, and life. However, this prose only appeared in certain passages, and after 600+ pages, it kind of all starts to say the same thing. Also, many of the characters voices, or styles of speaking, didn't seem to0 different from each other or the narrators, making them seem less unique, authentic believable people. The book also has funny, absurdist moments. Overall, it It was pretty good. It kept me entertained, and there was, occasionally, poignant, beautiful prose reflecting on New Mexico, poverty, and life. However, this prose only appeared in certain passages, and after 600+ pages, it kind of all starts to say the same thing. Also, many of the characters voices, or styles of speaking, didn't seem to0 different from each other or the narrators, making them seem less unique, authentic believable people. The book also has funny, absurdist moments. Overall, it was very drawn out and occasionally repetitive. Sometimes it left me wondering if Nichols left in parts that didn't actually add anything to the story other than wanting to flex his writing ability. Cool cover art too, probably will get it tattooed with some of my boys. Stay cool you nerds. peace.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kyle

    A bit hyperbolic, but nonetheless decent prose and a fun story centered about age old land and class struggles in New Mexico. You can definitely tell it was written by a transplant much like Herbie Goldfarb in the novel. The characters were for the most part carboard and none of them really change throughout the novels meandering 500 pages. The Latino characters almost seem like caraciatures with their incessant cussing, slang biting and backwoods behavior. The book was clearly written by a whit A bit hyperbolic, but nonetheless decent prose and a fun story centered about age old land and class struggles in New Mexico. You can definitely tell it was written by a transplant much like Herbie Goldfarb in the novel. The characters were for the most part carboard and none of them really change throughout the novels meandering 500 pages. The Latino characters almost seem like caraciatures with their incessant cussing, slang biting and backwoods behavior. The book was clearly written by a white man who had only been in New Mexico for a short time. The characters don't change, but I guess nothing really changes in Northern New Mexico either. The novel definitely could be trimmed down to around 300 pages. And as others have noted, the authors obsesses on having huge backstories for all characters introduced, no matter their importance to the plot. There were several poorly written sex scenes for minor characters that added nothing to the story as well as plot devices introduced that took the plot nowhere (Joe stashing the dynamite for later use after being framed). Three stars for the Don Quixotesque old man Amarante Cordova and the other old men who make the book extraordinarily funny at times. Still, the race is wide open for the great New Mexican novel but I thank Mr. Nichols for writing about this wonderful place.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rob Stainton

    Too many characters. Too many quirky anecdotes. Too little plot. I can see why many readers love it. I can tell that it's a great work in its genre. But I gave up after 140 pages of wanting for the story to get going.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    I have read this twice but a long time ago. I loved it. The following 2 are not as fabulous imho.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.