Whether you are a native Texan or not, you likely have an idea what people are talking about when they mention the Alamo, either as a part of the famous John Wayne movie, or as a pivotal event in the foundation of our state. But what you may not remember is that it was March 6, 1836, when the Alamo fell to General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna with the loss of all defenders. During March, which is Texas History Month, you might want to let your Abilene Public Library refresh, or enhance your knowledge of this historical event, without which, Texas might not exist.
Journalist & novelist Stephen Harrigan, whose fictional account The Gates of the Alamo is considered one of the best accounts combining both facts and imaginative reconstruction, has said in one newspaper account on books about the Alamo that he favors Walter Lord's A Time to Stand. Lord, who also wrote one of the most famous books about the Titanic (A Night to Remember) wrote what one reviewer called "an excellent combination of popular writing with careful scholarship" Although published in 1961, Harrigan was quoted as saying "it's still the best and most readable narrative about the Alamo" at that time.
In the same 2011 San Antonio Express-News article, two historians favored Dr. Steven Hardin's Texian Iliad: A Military History of the Texas Revolution for its account of the battle of the Alamo. Virginia Van Cleave, Alamo chairwoman of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas says Hardin's book "gives a very accurate picture...and makes the events come to life." Texas State University history professor Dr. J.F. de la Teja's comments is "He dispels myths, provides a respectful explanation of the Mexican side, and covers the participation of Tejanos."
One of the most recent entries into the Alamo list is The Blood of Heroes: the 13-Day Struggle for the Alamo - and the Sacrifice that Forged a Nation by James Donovan. A popular history, reviewers call it well researched and well written. Lon Tinkle's 13 Days to Glory tells the Alamo saga in thirteen chapters, and is considered one of the A.C. Greene's 50+ Best Books on Texas.
Your library has many books on the famous players of the Alamo: Crockett, Barrett, Travis and Bowie; and on some of the perhaps lesser known participants: Juan Seguin, Gregorio Esparza, Susannah & Almaron Dickinson, James Bonham, and a host of others.
There is even a title that attempts to prove, using letters and reports of Mexican officers written immediately after the skirmish, that almost everything we know about the fight at the Alamo is a myth. (To no one's surprise, Exodus from the Alamo: the Anatomy of the Last Stand Myth by Philip Thomas Tucker, is not one of our more popular Texas history titles).
These titles barely scratch the surface of what is available to read about an epochal event that has fired the imaginations of historians and lay people alike since almost before the smoke cleared. So, whatever your historical point of view, or whether you consider yourself knowledgeable or clueless about the Alamo, your Abilene Public Library can give you food for thought during this Texas History Month.
Article Contributed by Janis C. Test, Information Services Manager at the Main Branch of the Abilene Public Library