on May 7, 1999
Most people are aware of the history of the Alamo. This book gives us some in-depth background of the incredible story of how a group of a little over one hundred men, chose certain death, instead of surrender, or retreat, in front of a hopeless situation. More incredible still, is the fact that only nine of the Alamo defenders (curiously, all of Mexican origin!) were actually born in Texas! How were these passions created? The book is short & always to the point. Myers deals with the social & historical factors that drove the action in a logical, simple & interesting way. The central characters are beautifully developed. The reader actually cares about their welfare & ultimate fate. So important in holding one's attention. The whole account runs logically & unfussily to the momentous final conclusion. Here too, the author does not disappoint. The battle scenes are rousing, all-action & the tactics, weaponry, etc., are clearly described. Throughout, Myers is very careful to differenciate between known fact & heresay. He shows great impartiality too, between the Mexican & American positions. All in all, I would have no hesitation in recommending this book to both serious & occasional military history readers. Totally entertaining!
on October 30, 2004
John Myers Myers, in the last sentences of his book, The Alamo, perfectly captures the essence of what this story means to America. He writes, "The Alamo isn't a structure now; it is a symbol of valor in the minds of men. It can never fall again." Though he closes with that thought, it is obvious that he wrote this history with the knowledge that this particular event is just as important as myth as it is as history, and that it presents unique challenges to the historian to distinguish between the two. In the forward, he addresses the issue of how hard it is to find solid, historical evidence about the Alamo. The combatants were killed to a man, and as for the non-combatants who survived to tell their tales, none were professional writers, and no historian bothered to interviewed any of them during their lifetimes. He explains in some detail how he decided the veracity of the various surviving source materials: letters, journals, official orders of the Mexican officers, and interviews of survivors. He then launches into the tale.
Myers divides his book into three sections. The first third is devoted to the history of the structure of the Alamo, from mission to military outpost, and to the history of the roots of the conflict between the Texians and Mexico. This is vital information to understanding what happened at Bexar during those fateful twelve days in 1836. The fact that Myers devotes so many pages to explaining this background and placing the story in its proper historical context is one of the books strongest points.
In the second third of the book, Myers introduces the principal players who history associates with the Alamo - Bowie, Travis, Crockett, and Santa Anna. A chapter is devoted to each of them, and Myers does an admirable job of placing each within the context of their own personal histories without resorting to what later became so controversial as detracting "revisionism". He notes that while Bowie and Crockett were already legends in their own time, that Travis' fame is tied exclusively to his participation in the Texian revolution. He solidly establishes who they were as flesh and blood men, rather than the demigods of myth that they became, yet does so respectfully. Likewise, he paints a balanced portrait of Santa Anna rather than simply demonizing him.
In the book's final section, Myers writes skillfully of the siege and storming of the Alamo. It is a tale that comes with its own in-built drama, which requires only an expert storyteller to assure its success, and Myers is indeed an outstanding storyteller. He has an idiosyncratic style of writing that lends itself perfectly to the telling of this particular tale. Throughout, he is generally faithful to the more traditional interpretations of what happened at Bexar, but does acknowledge some of the elements that smack more of legend than of historical fact (such as Travis' saber-drawn line in the sand).
Myers has written a fine history of an event that has become an indispensable part of our national mythology. His research is firm, his writing style captivating, and his tone respectful to both the history and the legend. I heartily recommend it.
on June 30, 2003
Newer books have been written based on more recently available sources, but this book stands the test of time. It is based on solid research, it doesn't spend entire chapters digressing into, for instance, the ins and outs of the Bowies' business dealings, and it keeps speculation on the motivations of Travis, Crockett, Bowie and Santa Anna to a couple of paragraphs each. Any speculation is just the author's guesswork, and I find Myers guesses to be kept more brief - and more to my personal taste - than, say, William C. Davis' in "Three Roads to the Alamo". While Myers examines the actions of the three main personalities in a journalistic manner, the enormity of their patriotic sacrifice is never deprecated as is the fashion in modern, revisionist historical writing.
This book remains not only the best single volume on the siege, it provides a great introduction to the historic and social melieu of the era for those seeking to understand the background of the Mexican-American War. -
We still "Remember the Alamo" thanks to books like this by John Myers Myers. Not so very much has been discovered since 1948, when this book was first published, to render it obsolete. Rather, because it was written at a time when heroes were still admired rather than debunked, the values and ideals depicted in this book not only remain valid, but are especially worth recalling and honoring today. Although some debatable and, perhaps, controversial historical details may forever elude us, we DO know these gallant Texians gave their lives in an heroic fight-to-the-death battle against tyranny to uphold traditional American beliefs of freedom and independence. Such an inspiring, nonapologetic, traditional viewpoint may not sit well with some folks in these hyper politically-correct times, but many readers will rejoice that Myer's book is refreshingly free from the socio-political double-talk and Marxist rhetoric contained in some recent, revisionist Alamo accounts such as "Exodus From the Alamo," by Philip Thomas Tucker (2010). There ARE some good, new, objective Alamo books, chief among them "Blood of Heroes," by James Donovan (2012), and those contain the latest historical insights, but three "older" ones remain hard to beat for fidelity to the times and their depiction of the sheer human drama of unfolding events: (1) This one by John Myers Myers, (2) "The Alamo: Thirteen Days to Glory" by Lon Tinkle (1958), and (3) "A Time to Stand" by Walter Lord (1961). I would strongly urge anyone interested in this subject to read those three FIRST to establish a solid foundation upon which to evaluate any subsequent Alamo books one might then choose to read.
Just for the record I originally purchased and read the Bantam paperback of this book back in 1962, and in 1990 I acquired the Bison paperback edition. The text of both books is identical to this Bison ebook edition. Instead of this Bison edition for $9.99, I purchased the $2.99 ebook edition (currently available in the Kindle Store), and THAT is the edition I would recommend. (But I would also recommend putting the 7 dollars you will have saved toward the purchase of Walter Lord's book, arguably the very best Alamo account ever written).
on August 21, 2012
The film "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence" has, after a newspaper editor has learned the true story about who killed Liberty Valence, says to print the legend (and not the truth). Since all the defenders of the Alamo died in the battle, the truth about this battle will never be known. However, this book gives the best account of this battle I have found. This book was written before the Pena diary was discovered, but there are real questions about this diary. I give this book the highest recomendation. The legened, which I believe to be true, will inspire you.
on January 28, 2001
Although written in 1948, John Myers Myers "The Alamo", proves that he did his homework well way back then. As a result, the factual conclusions he arrived at then, dovetail with those arrived at by other Alamo authors in later years, including Walter Lord. Myers writing presents the subject in a historicly accurate manor, but at the same time with the wit and insight of a newspaper editorial, which brings it to life on a human level.
on June 24, 2014
"The Alamo" by Myers Myers is a classic because of the vitality, pungency and manliness of its prose. Perhaps because the author was a journalist, it avoids the superfluous meanderings of academic historians while illuminating those piquant little details of history that act as needle hooks for the reader's attention. It unapologetically recognizes the epic and heroic quality in human history and, while being pro-Texan, the author mainly takes delight in recounting the courageous deeds of brave men, both Texan and Mexican. There's a reason this is still read today and will continue to be read by patriots into the near future but, considering the ongoing reconquista of Texas and the Southwest by the Mexican mestizo hordes, one has to ask what continuing relevance the Alamo has for the White American. Why should we care about a long-ago fight for independence if we refuse to fight for our very survival today? Reading the story of the Alamo today, as the hordes pour over the border unopposed and ethnically cleanse our race from our own soil, just feels like a humiliation and a recrimination. As a great warrior once rhetorically asked, before setting out to to wage his own war of independence "Were the men of the Alamo only a myth?"
on January 28, 2001
Although written in 1948, John Myers Myers "The Alamo", proves that he did his homework well way back then. As a result, the factual conclusions he arrived at the time of his writing, dovetail with those arrived at in later years by other Alamo authors, including Walter Lord. Myers writing presents the subject in a historicly accurate manor, but at the same time with the wit and insight of a newspaper editorial, bringing it to life on a human level.
on February 5, 2014
Well written account of not only the seige but the politics and passions that led to the Alamo becoming the symbol of Texan grit and determination.
on July 17, 2015
I'm sorry it doesn't have notes. But this is the best narrative of the Alamo battle I have read.