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The Blood of Heroes: The 13-Day Struggle for the Alamo--and the Sacrifice That Forged a Nation Hardcover – May 15, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 171 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"The best book on the battle [of the Alamo]...Donovan has a splendid sense of historical narrative...Those making their entrance into Alamo lore for the first time are well advised to begin with The Blood of Heroes."―Allen Barra, Houston Chronicle

"The best book on Texas history....This is a big deal.... It's probably the best nonfiction I have read about Texas, history told in a way that reads like fiction....The Blood of Heroes is a good book for anyone with a love of history."―Michael Merschel, Dallas Morning News

"Mr. Donovan's gripping book is history at its best-exactingly sourced and written with a vividness that challenges you to put it down. Even those familiar with an oft-told story will delight in the richness of his detail."―The Washington Times

"Donovan's book reads fast, like a gallop through South Texas. You are carried through it. The Alamo is one of the greatest American stories, and he tells it in a sweeping, propulsive narrative that includes fine portraits of all of those wonderful, larger-than-life figures that have embedded themselves in the national lexicon: General Santa Anna, Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett, and William Barret Travis. A first-rate read from a fine historian."―S.C. Gwynne, author of Empire of the Summer Moon

"The Blood of Heroes is surely the best account to date, one that presents plenty of new insights while acting as a corrective-or at least an alternative viewpoint-to previous accounts....Donovan combines that vital blend of authoritative scholarship with the vivid writing necessary to make an oft-told tale seem fresh."―William C. Davis, Military History Quarterly

"Jim Donovan combines two exceptional talents-those of a first rate story teller and a first rate historian. In The Blood of Heroes, he gives a new and compelling narrative version of one of the most dramatic stories in American History, while at the same time thoughtfully and conscientiously remaining anchored to the wide range of original sources- including many only recently come to light. I predict his book will be one of the best classics to remember the Alamo."―Todd Hansen, The Alamo Reader: A Study in History

"An authoritative, moving retelling of an enduring episode of sacrifice and courage ...Donovan's thoroughly researched and agreeably told story focuses on the 13-day standoff, but he also supplies crucial context...Yes, the Alamo is remembered, but not without controversy. What really happened inside those battered walls? Did Travis really draw a line in the sand, asking all who would stand with him to step across it? Without breaking the flow of his compelling story, Donovan reliably separates fact from legend, persuasively assessing the evidence and artfully setting the scene."―Kirkus Reviews

"Donovan revisits the story and leaves us once again proud of what occurred and of the men who gave their lives....I am...impressed with his more than 100 pages of appendices, notes and bibliography in The Blood of Heroes."―State Journal-Register

About the Author

James Donovan is the author of the bestselling A Terrible Glory: Custer and the Little Bighorn-the Last Great Battle of the American West. He lives in Dallas, Texas.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; First Edition edition (May 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316053740
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316053747
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.8 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (171 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #493,718 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bruce E. Dettman on April 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Despite its immense fame and place of honor in American history, the 13 day battle of the Alamo has always been shrouded in considerable controversy and mystery. Almost from the moment the fighting ceased on the morning March 6, 1836 with a Mexican force under the command of dictator Antonio Santa having nearly massacred the nearly the entire garrison of some 180 freedom-minded Texians holed up in a broken down mission in San Antonio, Texas -- which included such frontier luminaries as Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie -- questions and conflicting accounts of what went on arose to confront and plague future generations and historians. While over the years a number of well-received and impressive books have been written on the subject including the highly respected A TIME TO STAND by Walter Lord, a great deal of the literature relating to the siege has been the work of well-intentioned although biased interpreters of the events with certain subjective axes to grind which have not always lent themselves to successful or satisfying historical scrutiny. Moreover, new information has to come to light over the last several years which has placed in question certain cherished and long-held beliefs and views regarding the events of 1836. Questioning Texas history can be a challenging business. Questioning its legends even more so. Did Bowie die from his sick bed still fighting to the last? Did Crockett go down swinging his rifle at the advancing hordes or surrender only to be executed later on Santa Anna's orders? Did the Alamo's commander William Travis draw the line in the sand over which all but one defender stepped to establish their willingness to die for the cause? How many defenders did die that day? How many Mexicans lost their lives?Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
As a native of San Antonio, Texas, I have always been fascinated by the history of my hometown, and the surrounding areas. As a young child, I had the opportunity to visit the Alamo and the surrounding missions. I'm not sure about other states, but Texans are extremely proud of their history, so I have read and studied about the Battle of the Alamo in school and on my own for many years. Every once in a while, new details emerge, inspiring new versions of the story of the Battle that took place all those years ago.

In The Blood of Heroes, author James Donovan presents a well-researched and gripping recollection of the events surrounding the Battle of the Alamo and the people who have become notable for it. Drawing on recently uncovered primary sources, Donavan introduces people at both ends of the war in the most life like portrayal I have ever encountered. Using both the spoken and written words of the men, Donovan provides a unique insight into the character of the men and their subsequent motivations for fighting, or not, in the war for Texas independence.

Despite being a work of nonfiction, the story feels like a well-written novel, always describing interesting details while never sacrificing the pace of the action. I found the descriptions of the weaponry used to be a fascinating insight into the tools that were used during combat of the time period (1836). The 200 Texans, severely under-armed and extremely outnumbered (the Mexican army had thousands), fought valiantly for 13 days. All Texans are familiar with the tragic fate met by the 200 men, but the details brought to light in this book allow fresh insights into the familiar story. Donovan has crafted what is sure to become one of the definitive collections on the Battle of the Alamo.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Bought this book during a recent visit to the Alamo. I grew up in Texas, so I knew the general story of the Alamo, but wanted a more comprehensive understanding of the battle. This book definitely gave me a more comprehensive understanding not only of the battle but its significance in Texas history. However, I often found myself lost in the details. Donovan provides a pretty exhaustive account of what happened on both sides of the conflict, but at times, he seems to be listing details simply for the sack of listing them without using them to illustrate a point or even enhance his story of the Alamo. As a result, I was bored during large portions of the middle book and almost stopped reading several times. I'm glad I stuck with it, however, because the last 100 hundred pages or so (the account of the actual battle and the aftermath) are excellent. Particularly good is the afterward, in which Donovan discusses the debate among historians about the veracity of the story of Travis drawing a line in the sand and explains why he believes the event is historical fact. But the afterward also emphasizes how much better this book could have been. The title had me expecting a book about why the men who died in the Alamo were heroes and how their sacrifice forged a nation. The book illustrates these points, but only indirectly, through a narrative that's bogged down with extraneous details. It would have been a much better book if Donovan had told his story as a way of illustrating particular points and themes regarding Texas history, and included only those details necessary for illustrating his points.
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