Young Vargas Lewis is a first novel which collapses into the category of historical romantic fiction. The bare bones of the story might have been plausible enough, within the limited expectations of that genre, except for the surfeit of meaningless detail and pointless comings and goings that make the book virtually unreadable. Lewis, a renegade from the Confederate Army, has left the United States in disgrace and arrives in Buenos Aires in 1863 looking for the engineering work for which he claims to be suited. He arrives at the outbreak of the War of the Triple Alliance (Paraguay vs. Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay) and though he insists that he wants to ""build things"" he is drawn instead into smuggling and slave trading, for starters. Thereafter, as a draftee in the Paraguayan army his work chiefly consists of making his escapes from the scenes of various debacles and of disengaging himself from the ruthless women who find his weaknesses irresistible. He survives, however, and his last state is an improvement over his first. Readers who survive will be unable to claim as much.