Fehrenbach, T.R., Lone Star: a History of Texas and the Texans. New York: American Legacy Press, 1983.
I had to keep reminding myself Fehrenbach was not actually in Texas 40,000 years ago because his book, Lone Staris so detailed, so expansive that it felt like he should have been. In 719 pages Fehrenbach details every aspect of Texas one could imagine. From practically primordial beginnings to present day the birth, growth and development of Texas is detailed. Everything from agriculture, architecture and attitude to wars (civil and great) is meticulously described. Other reviews have used the words expansive, panoramic, extensive, vast, comprehensive, detailed…and I would have to agree. Not a stone in Texas is left unturned when it comes to recounting the political, the people, the powers, the progression of the state. What sets this book apart from other histories of Texas is the fact that Fehrenbach is from Texas. One can hear the passion for his home state woven into every knowledgeable sentence.
Favorite quotes: “Yet, such is human ingenuity that no other species ever used the resources of a country more fully: the Coahuiltecans consumed spiders, ant eggs, lizards, rattlesnakes, worms, insects, rotting wood, and deer dung” (p 14), and “…a citizen army had won battles, but it could not be used by its government as an instrument of policy during the peace” (p 243).
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter, “Texas: A Lone Star State of Mind” (p 233).
Davis, C. William, Three Roads to the Alamo: The Lives and Fortunes of David Crockett, James Bowie, and William Barret Travis. New York: HarperPerennial, 1999.
When I first picked up Three Roads I thought to myself there is no way I want to carry this thing around with me. It’s nearly 800 pages long, and despite the pages being super thin, it’s a heavy book. However, when I quickly calculated that in order to finish Three Roads by the end of March (the month Texas became a state), I would need to read over 40 pages a day I decided carry it around, I would!
When I read the reviews for Davis’s book one word always seemed to pop up: exhaustive. Exhaustive research, exhaustive detail, exhaustive portraits, exhaustive this, exhaustive that. It’s true. There is so much detail given to not only the personalities and lives of Crockett, Bowie, and Travis, but to the culture and landscape of both politics and era as well. It’s as if the reader is witness to the pioneering growth of Louisiana, Texas and Virginia by default. History, politics and geography all rolled into one book.
Because not much is known about Crockett, Bowie and Travis each has become a legend beyond compare. Using as much information as he was able to research (exhaustively) Davis does a great job trying to dispel rumor and myth surrounding each man, admitting that these are men of folklorish proportions, but not much of it can be substantiated.
Confession: knowing there was no way I was going to finish this in time I skipped to the last chapter of the book. It is, of course, the end of Crockett, Bowie and Travis. Davis paints a tragic picture of what their last days must have been like in Alamo, Texas. The one image that kept playing in my mind was the uncertainty of their fates. When their families did not hear from them they could only speculate and worry. Word travelled slowly in those days. A telegram dispatched two weeks earlier can give loved ones the impression you are still alive despite the fact you died the next day.
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter “Texas: Lone Star State of Mind” (p 233).
HUGE woops. This was supposed to be published last month!
Tinkle, Lon. 13 Days to Glory: The Siege of the Alamo. New York: Macgraw-Hill, 1958
“Remember the Alamo!” is all that I remember from my Texas history lessons. No matter. Reading 13 Days to Glory has brought me up to speed. Tinkle wrote 13 Days based on letters and newspaper reports and gives a day by day and even hour by hour account of the siege. I now can tell you where the phrase “Remember the Alamo” originated from, the time of year (February), the weather (cold), and characters (Jim Bowie, Davey Crockett, William Travis & Santa Ana to name a few), too.
Set up as a historical novel with character thoughts and feelings, 13 days also includes photography of portraits and of course, the Alamo then and now. The picture of the Alamo church next to the San Antonio medical arts center is impressive.
The siege was incredibly brutal. Santa Ana wanted every Texan dead – no surrenders, no escapes and he got what he wanted. Every Alamo defender was killed and unceremoniously burned. But, in defense of the Mexican General, Tinkle doesn’t spend much time telling his side of the story. It’s all about about keeping the legends of the Alamo alive. It makes me want to travel to Texas just to stand beside the legendary structure and lay a hand on its stone walls.
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust and the chapter called “Texas: A Lone Star State of Mind” (p233).