DUEL OF EAGLES: The Mexican and U.S. Fight for the Alamo by Jeff Long

DUEL OF EAGLES: The Mexican and U.S. Fight for the Alamo

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Like Evan S. Connell's Son of the Morning Star, this revisionist history focuses critical scholarship and a novelist's eye for detail on one of the myth-enshrouded legends of Western Americana: the Alamo. Long sets the siege in the context of a larger struggle--between Mexico, still licking wounds after its revolutionary struggle, and the Jackson Administration, which, failing to purchase Texas, winked at Filibusters who violated neutrality laws by using American arms, money, and mercenaries. America justified the misnamed ""Texas War of Independence"" by inventing ""an artificial history that would present piracy as heroism, wrong as right, aggression as defense."" Contrary to this view that but for the Alamo, ""the Mexican Army would have surged across Texas and crushed the Anglo-Americans."" Long depicts the battle as a pointless, suicidal stand in an indefensible fortress. He transforms the traditional gallery of Texas heroes--Sam Houston, William Barret Travis, Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett--into a gang of alcoholics, opium addicts, racists, womanizers, fools, and cowards. Even the supposedly deadly American sharpshooters weren't all they were cracked up to be, he claims, since three fourths of the 600 Mexican casualties were due to ""friendly fire."" To his credit, Long insists more forcefully than previous historians that the Alamo was fought not by heroic defenders of freedom, but by slaveholders contemptuous of the Mexican Army. Yet sometimes his healthy debunking instincts warp his judgment, as in his ready acceptance of understandably biased Mexican accounts of the battle. A vitriolic, compulsively fascinating history that should be read alongside two other readable, though more adulatory, accounts: Walter Lord's A Time to Stand (1961) and Lon Tinkle's Thirteen Days to Glory (1958).

Pub Date: Aug. 29th, 1990
Publisher: Morrow