Early 19th-century America, brutal, energizing and quixotic, produced figures--on the frontier and in the cities--who emblemized the contrasts of the new public. But in this fictionalized biography of an American legend, the famous (though somewhat shadowy) figure of Davy Crockett receives perfunctory treatment. Townsend's story, told in a running description of the attack on the Alamo interrupted by nine flashbacks, recounts key moments in Crockett's life--from childhood to Congress. The book's chief disappointments include the lack of explanation as to why the massac re at Fort Mires occurred, and why the Mexicans were attacking the Alamo. Although Townsend reports that Crockett ""developed a healthy respect for the Indian,"" again we're not told why. Crockett would ""bitterly oppose President Andrew Jackson over the question of Indian rights and Indian lands,"" but the question itself isn't spelled out. Here, the story of a leading figure in American geographical expansion becomes, sadly, simply a hero tale; the lessons of history are lost.