SWORD OF SAN JACINTO by Marshall De Bruhl


A Life of Sam Houston
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 Close on the heels of John Hoyt Williams's Sam Houston (1992), freelance historian De Bruhl's biography of the colorful Texas hero also commemorates the 200th anniversary of Houston's birth--but this is a lackluster, inferior chronicle. All of the historical details are present in De Bruhl's account, but the overall sense of the man behind the legend is incomplete. Houston's Virginia origins and early adult years as a battle-scarred Indian fighter and Tennessee politician are dutifully recorded, as is the marital crisis that sent his political career into a tailspin, driving him westward in 1830 to live in drunken despair with his Cherokee friends. Seeing a golden opportunity to start fresh in the influx of American settlers into the Mexican territory soon to become Texas, Houston thrived on the heady expansionist sentiments filling the air, taking charge as the commander of a volunteer army when friction between the newcomers and Mexico turned to war. Successful in a decisive engagement against Santa Anna's army, Houston quickly became the preeminent statesman of the fledgling Republic of Texas, but his staunch pro- Union position after statehood was achieved left him increasingly isolated and eventually cost him his Senate seat, derailed his presidential aspirations, and caused his precipitous removal as governor when he refused to support secession. Houston died in disgrace in 1863. Substantive but uninspired, and marred by editorializing (a woman protecting her property from appropriation by Houston during the war with Mexico is labeled ``an unpatriotic virago''). (Sixteen pages of b&w illustrations--not seen.)

Pub Date: March 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-394-57623-3
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1993