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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: March 31, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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NIGHT

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

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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