If you remember the 1960 movie “The Alamo” with John Wayne and use it as your primary source for understanding the Alamo you will not like this work. The book presents an interpretation that is different from the traditional view and anything I previously encountered.
As I started reading I was at first shocked finding the book unsettling. It just wasn’t the story being told the way I had learned. My family’s roots are in Gonzales County, Texas near the Cost community.That is where the Battle of Gonzales happened in Oktoberfest 1835. As a sixth generation Texan, member of Texas First Families (member # 5255), holder of a bachelor of arts in history from the University of Texas at Arlington, a person who has studied Texas and military history on the university level, and one how has been to the Alamo over a dozen times I found myself realizing the book lives up to its title – “Exodus from the Alamo: The Anatomy of the Last Stand Myth “. The title is accurate. The author cuts open and examines the story of the Alamo.
The historian in me started looking at the research and documentation of the author. After all, I was reading the story from a point of view totally foreign to my experience. The author used letters and reports of Mexican officers written immediately after the battle. The book is well referenced. I knew we had slavery in Texas prior to the battle of the Alamo, but keeping the “peculiar institution” had never been listed as a primary motivating factor for the Texas War of Independence in my previous study. Most shocking to me was the author’s conclusion that the battle of the Alamo was a short predawn clash that held no real military significance. He concludes that the inexperienced defenders of the Alamo were overconfident, caught asleep in their beds, run scared when attacked (hence “The Exodus”) and routinely killed by Mexican cavalry who were guarding the rear exits. This is not the heroic last stand the 1960 movie told.
Comment: The research is hard to argue against. Just because the story doesn’t match the myth doesn’t mean the story isn’t true. I’m still reflecting on the book. I say let the scholars read and react to his research. Let the average white person reflect on the content. Let those of Hispanic heritage hold their heads high. I had never viewed the Alamo as a bunch of rebels trying to break free from the legitimate government or the Mexican Army as simply soldiers trying to suppress a rebellion. Time will tell how this point of view and research is received. I hope this is just the first of several works to reexamine the battle of the Alamo.
Myth or fact? The research is pretty straight forward. Read all of it with an open mind before drawing your own conclusions. You just might surprise yourself. Remember, as the book’s title warns, the author is challenging a 175 years old myth.
Interesting note: I checked the Alamo Museum’s on-line gift store, book selection. They have 193 books on the Alamo for sale. This book is not listed.