Three noted Texan writers combine forces to tell the real story of the Alamo, dispelling the myths, exploring why they had their day for so long, and explaining why the ugly fight about its meaning is now coming to a head. Every nation needs its creation myth, and since Texas was a nation before it was a state, it’s no surprise that its myths bite deep. There’s no piece of history more important to Texans than the Battle of the Alamo, when Davy Crockett and a band of rebels went down in a blaze of glory fighting for independence from Mexico, losing the battle but setting Texas up to win the war. However, that version of events, as Forget the Alamo definitively shows, owes more to fantasy than reality. Just as the site of the Alamo was left in ruins for decades, its story was forgotten and twisted over time, with the contributions of Tejanos–Texans of Mexican origin, who fought alongside the Anglo rebels–scrubbed from the record, and the origin of the conflict over Mexico’s push to abolish slavery papered over. Forget the Alamo provocatively explains the true story of the battle against the backdrop of Texas’s struggle for independence, then shows how the sausage of myth got made in the Jim Crow South of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. As uncomfortable as it may be to hear, celebrating the Alamo has long had an echo of celebrating whiteness. In the past forty-some years, waves of revisionists have come at this topic, and at times have made real progress toward a more nuanced and inclusive story that doesn’t alienate anyone. But we are not living in one of those times; the fight over the Alamo’s meaning has become more pitched than ever in the past few years, even violent, as Texas’s future begins to look more and more different from its past. It’s the perfect time for a wise and generous-spirited book that shines the bright light of the truth into a place that’s gotten awfully dark.
About the Author:
Bryan Burrough is a special correspondent for Vanity Fair and the author of seven books, including the New York Times #1 best-selling Barbarians at the Gate (with John Helyar) and Public Enemies. After living for too long in the snowy north, he is thrilled to be back living in his native Texas.
The battle to remember the Alamo
“Lively, entertaining and well-researched . . . The greatest surprise of Forget the Alamo is its clear-eyed explication of the ways politicians, educators, writers, filmmakers and TV executives used the Alamo to serve whatever message they were promoting.” —Houston Chronicle
“Riveting . . . The narrative flows seamlessly as it explores the complicated legacies of Stephen F. Austin, known as the Father of Texas, and Sam Houston, the first and third president of the Republic of Texas, as well as the many places and institutions named in their honor. Bringing Mexican voices to the forefront, the authors argue that it is necessary to diversify perspectives in order to create a comprehensive historical narrative of Texas, and especially San Antonio. Not only an essential work of Texas history, but popular history at its best. The book shines when detailing the power of telling one’s own story.” —Library Journal