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Sword of San Jacinto:: A Life of Sam Houston Paperback – May 3, 1994

4.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Timed to appear on the 200th birthday of Sam Houston (1793-1863), this finely researched biography adopts a more descriptive approach to the "father of Texas" than does John Hoyt Williams's Sam Houston (Nonfiction Forecasts, Nov. 30). Where Williams vigorously finds controversies and contradictions in Houston's personal and political conduct, De Bruhl tends to deflate or minimize them, from the frequently sensationalized failure of his brief first marriage (the author speculates simply that Houston's bride was repulsed by his war wounds) to his command of the pivotal battle of San Jacinto. De Bruhl, an editor of the Dictionary of American Biography , evokes his subject's personality, both his pitifulness in his mid-career self-exile and his flashes of humor--when a friend pressed him to reveal the reason for his failed marriage, Houston asked if he could keep a secret; the friend answered, "Of course I can" and Houston replied, "So can I." Well-chosen details set the atmosphere surrounding Houston's ascent as the first president of Texas, eventually its senator and, in a futile bid to preserve the Union, its governor. Illustrations not seen by PW. Author tour.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

March 2, 1993 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Sam Houston, and this is the second major biography to celebrate that occasion, after John Hoyt Williams's Sam Houston: A Biography of the Father of Texas ( LJ 1/93). Both biographies cover the same ground with the same emphases, but while De Bruhl does not provide quite as much detail, he shows more of Houston's skill as an orator. Although there are no notes, De Bruhl, like Williams, has thoroughly examined the available sources, including a recent find of Houston letters, and has produced a well-written narrative that enables the reader to come to grips with the complex personality of Houston. De Bruhl views his subject favorably but does not hide Houston's faults in presenting a portrait of the whole man. Of the two biographies, academic libraries will prefer Williams's scholarly approach while public and school libraries should first look to De Bruhl's well-written and lively account; specialized collections will need both. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/92.
- Stephen H. Peters, Northern Michigan Univ. Lib., Marquette
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Random House (May 3, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679753028
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679753025
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,272,173 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Daniel Hurley VINE VOICE on December 20, 2003
Format: Hardcover
From a hero from Horseshoe Bend fighting against the Creeks, Houston emerges as a disciple of "Old Hickory" eventually becoming the governor of Tennessee. Although successful, during a run at re-election, the battle scared Houston marries a much younger and indulgent woman who from the honeymoon night on rejects Houston, which captures wide spread press and ruins his political career causing him to amazingly exile himself amongst the Cherokee. With bouts of alcohol, remarriage and political representation of the Cherokee, Houston is seemingly rescued by Jackson and motivated to immigrate to Texas. The author gives a very good representation of a successful man who shows great promise particularly his ability to communicate with the common folk yet he has serious personal liabilities. Houston becomes active in Texas politics but the fascinating story of Houston is his command of Texas forces fighting Santa Anna. Houston orders Travis and Bowie to abandon the Alamo due to Santa Anna's large army and heavy cannon preferring to fight with mobility in the field. They refuse and become famous but suffer complete loss. However, Houston's tactics prove effective as he attains victory over Anna. Again active in politics, Houston stubbornly refuses to support secession while governor and is a pariah among his fellow Texans. Interesting story of a humble man who lived in such plain dwellings with dog runs in Texas. Very much a worthwhile read.
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Format: Paperback
Marshall De Bruhl has produced one of the best biographies I have read. Beginning with his grandfather John Houston's arrival in America, De Bruhl lays the foundation for why General Sam Houston was who he was and became who he became, to use the authors own words, "...an authentic American hero. Wounded in the War of 1812 and the Texas revolution. Congressman. Governor of two states, Tennessee and Texas. Ambassador from the Cherokee Nation. United States senator. Commander-in-chief of the Texan army. Twice president of the Republic of Texas."

Even this seems to be an understatement of the achievements of this fascinating and unusual patriot. To add from the 403 pages of biography that follows this statement on page xi of the authors note, one needs only to pick from over four decades of public service. Houston was, in fact repeatedly re-elected to lead Texas as both governor and president, including the term in which Texas seceded from the Union against his strong opposition; add to that, his strong leadership in congress opposing anything that would jeopardize the union. He strongly opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act and openly warned that it would lead the nation into war. When Texas tried to secede as a republic not aligned with the Confederacy in 1861, and the Confederacy forcefully took over the state, he refused to pledge loyalty to the new "nation" and allowed himself to be removed from office by the replacement legislature. And, again, he warned that Civil War would follow, predicting that it would not be short, but would flood the land with the blood of young Texans.

Was Sam Houston a genuine hero as presented by De Bruhl? Absolutely. However, he was not presented as anything more than a hero with clay feet.
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Format: Paperback
Sam Houston lived such a giant life that any bio will come up short, but De Bruhl gives a good summary of his many failures and successes, his sometimes-brilliant and sometimes-tarnished career in politics, and an insight into Sam's personal character. Cheered by some, reviled by others, Houston was a man who always lived by his convictions.

I was disappointed to see less of Sam's life among the Tsalagi, but readers looking for his legendary exploits in Texas will not be disappointed. I also recommend "The Raven" for more on Sam. Younger readers will appreciate "Retreat to Glory" and "Six Feet Six".
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Format: Hardcover
Sam Houston lived such a giant life that any bio will come up short, but De Bruhl gives a good summary of his many failures and successes, his sometimes-brilliant and sometimes-tarnished career in politics, as well as insights into Sam's personal character. Cheered by some, reviled by others, Houston was a man who always lived by his convictions.

I was disappointed to see less of Sam's life among the Tsalagi, but readers looking for his legendary exploits in Texas will not be disappointed. I also recommend "The Raven" for more on Sam. Younger readers will appreciate "Retreat to Glory" and "Six Feet Six".
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book informs you about the specifics of Sam Houston's life, the truth about the Texas-Mexico border, and the Republic of Texas. As a native Texan I have to say that without a doubt this is a must-read book.

Houston's greatness comes through. A pioneer, frontiersman, warrior, leader, and politician are just some of Houston's attributes depicted.
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