THE BLOOD OF HEROES

THE 13-DAY STRUGGLE FOR THE ALAMO--AND THE SACRIFICE THAT FORGED A NATION

A popular historian revisits the most stirring siege in American history.

On Feb. 24, 1836, vastly outnumbered and defending an old Spanish mission in San Antonio against Santa Anna’s Mexican army, garrison commander William Barret Travis issued a plea for reinforcements. To the people of Texas and “all Americans in the world,” he declared, “I shall never surrender or retreat.” He did neither, and the slaughter of the Alamo’s defenders has reverberated ever since. Donovan (A Terrible Glory: Custer and the Little Big Horn—The Last Great Battle of the American West, 2008, etc.) rightly deems the Battle of the Alamo the signal event of the Texas struggle for independence. The two-week siege bought precious time for the fledgling provincial government to organize, for settlers to recognize the immediacy of their peril and for Sam Houston’s Army of the People to assemble and train. The siege bogged down Santa Anna’s avenging force, killing many of his best troops. When, seven weeks later, Houston’s army surprised and routed the Napoleon of the West’s exhausted soldiers at San Jacinto, the Texans’ battle cry was “Remember the Alamo!” Donovan’s thoroughly researched and agreeably told story focuses on the 13-day standoff, but he also supplies crucial context, helping us to understand the history of the breakaway province and notable characters in the revolution like Houston, Stephen Austin, Ben Milam and James C. Neill. He explains how the principal actors in the Alamo drama—including, of course, former congressman and frontiersman David Crockett and knife-fighter James Bowie—arrived at this juncture in history. Yes, the Alamo is remembered, but not without controversy. What really happened inside those battered walls? Did Travis really draw a line in the sand, asking all who would stand with him to step across it? Without breaking the flow of his compelling story, Donovan reliably separates fact from legend, persuasively assessing the evidence and artfully setting the scene. An authoritative, moving retelling of an enduring episode of sacrifice and courage.

 

Pub Date: May 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-316-05374-7

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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