Monica Reads: ‘In the Shadow of Vargas’ Delivers

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Monica Drahonovsky

Monica Drahonovsky

In the Shadow of Vargas
A Land in Turmoil Series
E. Paul Bergeron

Monica Reads
By Monica Drahonovsky

Good Day to you all!

The author, E. Paul Bergeron, pulls the reader in to his novel into the Fall of 1821 in a part of what is now New Mexico, but was then call Nuevo Mexico.

Once President Jefferson made the Louisiana Purchase for three cents per acre, there was much confusion over the boundaries. The Purchase from Napoleon, which had once belonged to Spain did not have any definite boundaries. Santa Fe, Nuevo Mexico considered itself Spanish and not Mexican territory. People in Mexico wanted it back and thought it was rightfully theirs.

Bonaparte sold the land known as the Louisiana Territory secretly without telling Mexico.

Confusion reigned. When the hunting party of four men from St. Louis visited the land to make their fortune in beaver furs and were attacked by Indians and then Comancheros, they assumed they were in the foreign country of Mexico, but the Spanish held sway in the legal political scene.

The Mexican people and the indigenous Indians were the victims of kidnapping, death and slavery. Human trafficking was alive and well back in 1821, as it is in countries like Venezuela and sub-Saharan countries today.

If you think it was easy to make a life in 1821, you are mistaken. Brutal, lying and lazy bureaucrats were in charge of government schemes and they plotted endlessly for personal wealth and power. This “good versus evil” exploration also involves faith and trust as well as a lot of fortitude.

What triumphs and what happens next follows along the footsteps of what many of the first settlers endured in the country. Choices and personal honor confront pathos, fear and stupidity.

You will meet wealthy Spanish landowners, Mexican landowners, Spanish soldiers, Spanish priests, Indians of different tribes and Consuelo. She is my personal hero in this novel.

William MacLeod is the reluctant hero who did nothing except keep himself alive, bury a lot of dead people and teach us about the magic of personal integrity. He walked in a land with no boundaries and no moral compass.

However, he kept his head and stayed alive and was instrumental in making this novel work as well as it does. I learned a lot about the times, about politics in that era — and faith. I also learned a lot about brutality and how important personal boundaries are in making decisions.

This book will not disappoint. This book delivers the times of 1821 to you. You will feel stronger about making good choices after reading this first of a trilogy. I will be interested to read the next one and find out how things work out for William MacLeod.

Monica Reads is’s latest column. It is written by Monica Drahonovsky who is known for her love of history and her lifelong love for reading. She has a bachelor’s degree in History, with a minor in English, along with teaching credentials. “My years of reading for leisure and pleasure have given me the insight to read a book and analyze the author’s baggage, cargo and ability to write the language of his/her mind and utilize the gift of prose to educate and entertain the reader.  Go get a book, read it and enjoy the adventure.” Contact Monica at

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