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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A hard look at Sam Houston and early Texas
This is a very enjoyable work of historical fiction. The character of Sam Houston is one of those American originals that seem so perfect for fiction that it is hard to believe he ever really lived. The exaggerated aspects of character - the dramatic costumes, high intelligence, temper, ambition, sensitivity, appitite and energy - all seem to be perfectly Texan,...
Published on December 16, 1999 by Doug Vaughn

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too much revisionism
First of all, the book is well-researched and quite entertaining. However, Long goes too far in his efforts to knock the Texas heroes from their pedestals. Instead of deifying them, he takes the exact opposite extreme with the end result being just as unrealistic and unbelieveable. The tone of the description on the cover is also quite arrogant, proclaming the possible...
Published on June 11, 2002 by Phil Graf


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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too much revisionism, June 11, 2002
By 
Phil Graf (Houston, Texas USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Empire of Bones: A Novel of Sam Houston and the Texas Revolution (Hardcover)
First of all, the book is well-researched and quite entertaining. However, Long goes too far in his efforts to knock the Texas heroes from their pedestals. Instead of deifying them, he takes the exact opposite extreme with the end result being just as unrealistic and unbelieveable. The tone of the description on the cover is also quite arrogant, proclaming the possible execution as described in the book as a proven fact, ignoring the inconclusive nature of the evidence.
The book itself is full of good information, yet stretches the reader's imagination to believe that Sam Houston was nothing more than a lucky, bumbling fool who essentially did nothing and led nowhere and that the Texas Army was nothing more than a roving band of inhuman animals whose lust for land and money was responsible for the "massacre" at San Jacinto. Once again, the cover description seems to suggest that Long is the first to discover the "true nature" of the battle, as if no one else had previously figured it out. Additionally, the Mexican atrocities at the Alamo and Goliad are mentioned, but Long seems to only hold Santa Anna accountable for the slaughter at those events.
Essentially, it could have been a good book if the author was not attempting to prove an impossible point. Long had an opportunity to give a realistic portrayal of the epic conflict and failed by making Crockett, Houston and the Texas Army just as unbelievable as the demigods that they have been made out to be in the past.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Awful..., March 15, 2014
This review is from: Empire of Bones: A Novel of Sam Houston and the Texas Revolution (Hardcover)
Too much evilness.
Jeff Long does an excellent job as a novelist, but when he tampers with the Alamo, he stinks.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Self-righteous and over-written, August 6, 2001
By 
A. J. Woods (Readington, NJ) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Empire of Bones: A Novel of Sam Houston and the Texas Revolution (Hardcover)
About two-thirds through this work, I wondered why I was reading it. Houston is so thoroughly painted with a Hamlet-like melancholy that the book becomes lifeless. Indeed, according to Long, Houston was impotant in command and in character: unable to win over his officers and fearful of the mob that was his army. When placed in a position to administer justice, he waivers. He becomes a bystander to the events that stretch between the battles of the Alamo and of San Jacinto. Chapter after chapter foreshadows the battle of San Jacinto as a massacre brought on by the barbarity of the American volunteers. Yet Long (as Houston) also cries for the lost innocence of these settlers and fortune-seekers. But when the battle finally comes, Houston's actions are buffoonish. The killing is labeled criminal, but seldom described so. And perhaps that is the real flaw. There is a lack of description of events. There is a lot of wailing about death and the scattering of bones, but no action. Long wants to work both ways. He wants to condemn the events at San Jacinto - register it as the mark of Cain on the forehead of Texas, but he neither faults Houston nor the Texan army. The former is incapable of handling his men. The latter are no more than undisciplined children. Of other interest, there is a dramatic prologue featuring Davy Crockett at the Alamo, a ridiculous sexual encounter between Houston and a wealthy refugee, and of course the almost required parting shot at Santa Anna as an egomaniacal fop hated even by his aide.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A hard look at Sam Houston and early Texas, December 16, 1999
This review is from: Empire of Bones: A Novel of Sam Houston and the Texas Revolution (Hardcover)
This is a very enjoyable work of historical fiction. The character of Sam Houston is one of those American originals that seem so perfect for fiction that it is hard to believe he ever really lived. The exaggerated aspects of character - the dramatic costumes, high intelligence, temper, ambition, sensitivity, appitite and energy - all seem to be perfectly Texan, perfectly larger than life. Any number of good accounts of his life could be, and have been, written. What makes this retelling of the period of his life when he fought the Battle of San Jacinto significant is that it isn't simply a tale of the good guy Texans getting revenge on Santa Anna and the bad guy Mexicans. In this more balanced and reasoned telling of the tale, that great variety of human ambitions and greed that spark most wars and revolutions, is shown as a prominant part of the struggle to wrest Texas from Mexico.
The cast of characters is interesting and the depiction of that early period in Texas history seems realistic and believable. The climactic battle of San Jacinto is told in hard detail and the probably over bloody response to the surprised Mexican forces shows that whatever cruelties the Mexicans were willing to meet out to those at the Alamo, their avengers were capable of as well.
A really interesting and satisfyfing book. I don't know if Texans would go for it, but this Tennessean sure did.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars You'll either LOVE IT or HATE IT, October 29, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Empire of Bones: A Novel of Sam Houston and the Texas Revolution (Hardcover)
Jeff Long always manages to open the proverbial "can of worms" when he puts his view of Texas history on paper. It's pretty obvious that he has an axe to grind, which CAN be positive. In this case however, it's positively appalling. Long might be a fair novelist, but he stinks as an historian. There are far too many skewered "facts" in this work. Long destroyed much of the mythology surrounding the Alamo, (DUEL OF EAGLES) but managed to create a whole new batch in the process. In EMPIRE OF BONES, Long takes aim at the Battle of San Jacinto and unfortunately he misses the mark. Revisionists will LOVE this book, and many "proud Texans" will hate it. It's a poor novel and worse history.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Empire of Bones - Jeff Long, May 20, 2013
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This review is from: Empire of Bones: A Novel of Sam Houston and the Texas Revolution (Hardcover)
Jeff Long is one of my favorite writers. Everything he has written is exceptional. This is an intriguing non-fiction. I highly recommend it.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Companion Must Read, January 29, 2011
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This review is from: Empire of Bones: A Novel of Sam Houston and the Texas Revolution (Hardcover)
This novel is a must read companion to Duel Of Eagles. This brings to life the events surrounding the birth of Texas and the one key person that shaped it. Excellent read.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An historic novel based on facts by a talented writer., January 19, 1999
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This review is from: Empire of Bones: A Novel of Sam Houston and the Texas Revolution (Hardcover)
Mr.Long is also the author of "Duel of Eagles" and this book continues his focus on Sam Houston. The form of a novel allows Mr. Long to explore themes that a purely historical book would not. Some Texas "historians" had sharp and negative reactions to "Duel of Eagles". This is understandable since the book is not the typical hagiography often passed off as Texas history. "Empire" offers an insight into the motivations and actions of some of those "brave Texians" who came to Texas seeking real estate and riches rather than liberty and freedom. Mr. Long's view is that Texas under Mexico was a tough and ruthless place which attracted some of the most greedy and grasping men of the age. At the same time certain men, Houston, Rusk, Seguin, and Smith are clearly complex and perhaps honorable men in rugged times. Mr. Long's works are a counter-balance to the propaganda and boosterism which seemed to infect much of the writings about Texas as republic and before. Whether you agree with Mr. Long's views, his research is thorough and his characters are real. This book is a valuable addition to any collection of books on Texas or Sam Houston.
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Empire of Bones: A Novel of Sam Houston and the Texas Revolution
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