22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on August 25, 2008
This is another great James Lee Burke novel. There is alot of Texas history in the story. And as always James Lee Burkes writing style makes the story very realistic. In this book a story is told of two guys who are running from the law in Louisiana and head for Texas. They are looking for and find Sam Houston just before the battle for Texas independence. The story is told as only James Lee Burke can tell it. Fast reading and holds your interest. If you like James Lee Burke, you like Two for Texas.
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 1999
More of a long short story than a novel, this 1982 Burke effort does not have the depth of plot and characters that the latest Burke novels offer. Basically two escaped convicts, one old one young, exit a Louisiana hell hole of a prison and move south into Texas ending up with Sam Houston's near the Alamo. The young convict is a Holland, the great-grandfather of Billy Bob from Heartwood.
21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2000
If you think (like me) that JL Burke is America's finest writer, then buy "In the Electric Mist" or "Laying down my Sword", both of which were superbly crafted (or any of the Robicheaux novels, for that matter). "Texas", though, is brief, thin, and unBurkean. I'd give his other books 5 stars, but this one doesn't even deserve a 1.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2000
Hard not to like and enjoy a James Lee Burke book. This is really more of a short story full of action in the period of the Alamo. One can see the genesis of the future Burke works. Wonderfully descriptive phrases, fully drawn characters and the ever present feeling of danger. As a James Lee Burke fan I am glad it has been reissued...it's well worth taking the time to explore his origins...and it's got lots of action and thrills.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2014
This is my first novel by James Lee Burke,and I found it a terrific.I notice received high ratings from the 43 Reviews.I was very impressed.As a voracious reader of Westerns,my favorite being,"Longarm","LoneStar"."The Gunsmith","The Trailsman","Slocum",and authors such as Peter Brandvold (Frank Leslie) and Jory Sherman.The cover on this novel has great artwork,something I often mention in my Reviews;so I thought I'd give it a try.It is all located in south Texas and at the time of the Alamo and the Texas Rebellion of 1835-1836.I've not read a lot about this period,but in Westerns I read, the "heros" often venture into Mexico,and encounter Mexican Banditos and Ruales,but that is usually after the Civil War.
In this story we have 2 prisoners escape from prison and running for their lives,being hunted down,injured,even hiding with Indians and as a last resort finding that their friend Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett has been killed at the Alamo,and deciding their last hope of survival is to join General Sam Houston's Army and take on Santa Anna.Their other hope in life is the award of 640 acres of land Houston promised to soldiers who stuck it out in defeating Santa Anna. There is an Epilogue at the end that tells us what happened to Son Holland and Hugh Allison in later life.
The story is very well written with lots of excellent character development and fast,page turning action;all with real historical events tossed in.I am still amazed at the number of reviews this author and novel have received,but now I understand why.I can't wait to read more from James Lee Burke;certainly a western writer to be reckoned with in the future.
"Texas" evolved from the Caddo Indians greeting "te shas".Since there is no "sh" sound in Spanish,early explorers and missionaries writing about their travels replaced the unfamiliar syllable with an "x " to make "te x as".
So,there you have it ! from Armchair Reader "The Gigantic Reader (2009).
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Read by Will Patton
Published by Simon and Schuster Audio 2013
First published in 1982
Duration: 5 hours, 23 minutes
James Lee Burke is a prolific writer with more than thirty books, most set in New Orleans and Texas. Two for Texas takes place in both places. Son Holland is the main character. He has been falsely accused of being involved in a crime ring and sentenced to hard time in a Louisiana penal camp by the French gentlemen that control the city.
While in this camp, Holland meets Hugh, a loud-mouthed, opinionated, walleyed older man who engineers a chance to escape to Texas. But, when they escape they end up killing one of the two downright evil French brothers that run the camp. This is 1834 and Texas is a foreign country - technically still a part of Mexico but certainly preparing to rebel and create the Republic of Texas.
Hugh and Holland live among Indians, dodge the Mexican Army and flee the posse sent after them from the prison (led by the surviving evil French brother) that is pursuing them. They decide to hide by joining General Sam Houston's fledgling army as war between Mexico and Texas erupts.
Veteran actor Will Patton did an outstanding job with this book. He covered a wide variety of accents making them all unique. But, his best performance was reserved for the character of Hugh. Hugh's smart comments, bad attitude and ability to tell the most elaborate lies at the drop of the hat make him a memorable character. Patton's raspy characterization makes every scene with him pop.
Note: The book's description on the back of the box claims that Hugh and Holland join the Texas Rangers and fight in the Battle of the Alamo. Rest assured, they do neither.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 27, 2013
Yes, I admit it, I considered it a risk. After all, no Dave R., no Clete Purcell, no Hackberry; so who were these guys? Well, I worried for not. The story is about a young boy wrongfully sentenced to confinement in a horrible Louisiana prison run by Frenchmen. The boy meets and become friends with a character (literally and figuratively). They kill a guard, escape, and run. And run some more. During their wanderings they become part of Sam Houston's army just prior to the battle of the Alamo. The character's are very well done by Mr. Burke, and as usual his painting with words of the landscape is impeccable. There are plenty of names any westerner will recognize: Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, etc. It's brutal (what did you expect?) at times, and romantic (in a western way) at other times. In short, I loved it. One caveat; if you're a died in the wool easterner, you may be disappointed; if you're from West of the Mississippi, take the plunge.
on March 11, 2015
While most of James Burke's novels are stories with authentic historical backdrops, Two for Texas moves more clearly into the genre of Historical Fiction. The two principal characters, Hugh Allison and Son Holland, weave their way in and out of events leading up to the battle of the Alamo and culminating in the final defeat of Santa Anna's army, with illuminating anecdotal scenes involving Jim Bowey and Sam Houston. Burke, as usual, has done in depth research on the subject, locations, characters and societal mores of the time. For his own part, Burke is nothing if not a cynic but it is a cynicism based in realism. Indeed, the motivation of Allison and Holland's "quest" to join Sam Houston's army has more to do with their desperate effort to elude their pursuers after escaping a Louisiana penal colony and the brother of a French guard they killed than any desire to further America's cause in Texas. Allison most effectively embodies this (at times bitter) cynicism while Holland, the more idealistic of the two, provides an effective foil to his companion. The interplay between these two goes a long way toward illuminating the attitudes, constraints and pressures of the time. I balked a bit at the profusely gratuitous profanity of Allison, though his character was otherwise expertly drawn and became the main source of historically authentic information and detail.
This is vintage Burke, and critics who bemoan the differences in subject and theme are sadly mistaken. With his typical alligator charm and historical relevance, Burke creates and indelible portrait of a critical period in American history, with all its grit, grime and grandeur.
on August 14, 2013
I am a through-'n'-through Burke/Robicheaux fan. I was absolutely blown away by the Holland of "Bitteroot" and will certainly travel to/camp the area the way I did to Tony Hillerman's "Big Rez." HEAVEN!
However, I found "Two for Texas" an oft-told tale, really below Mr. Burke's grasp and abilities. I have been disappointed to read some fellow reviewers in this space, as I think that Burke's psychological insights do not get adequate regard compared to his admittedly near FRIGHTENING command of description and simile. The characters here are "straw men," imprinted in song and story, right down to Tony Curtis and his fellow if black convict partner as they run for freedom literally chained together at the wrist. [See "The Defiant Ones," Tony Curtis/Sidney Poiter, 1958]
No, sorry. I have bought/given away as many as three dozen copies of "In the Electric Mist" and "Heaven's Prisoners" and, a sentimental favorite "Burning Angel." "Two for Texas" was more of a mere commercial exercise than I've come to expect from Mr. Burke.
Dutch Frogg, my housemate, contributed in no small way to this mini-essay. Thanks, Dutch. [Dutch's blog: dutchspeaks.blogspot.com].
Most readers will know James Lee Burke from his Dave Robicheaux novels-- they're among the best regional mysteries around. Extremely well-written, they get under your skin and stay with you. I hadn't known Burke had written this western novella and was pleased to trip over it. A lot happens in its 150 pages: the writing is crisp (as always with Burke) and the two protagonists feel real. When they form an alliance in a hellish prison camp and pledge to escape or die trying, the plot takes off at a gallop and doesn't really let up. It's around 1834, and the two men make their way to Texas as the struggle for Texian freedom is in the wind. While they're mostly concerned with just staying alive and ahead of the men who are searching for them, they become enmeshed in the looming conflict.
The eye-witness history is fun, but it's the characterizations and situations that really work here. This is as good a western as you're likely to find, as sharp in places as some of McMurtry's best. Recommended, even if you don't generally read westerns.