Forget the Alamo is provocatively titled and sometimes provocatively written. As snarky as some passages are, it’s a creditable retelling of the familiar Alamo story, and highly readable to boot.
The authors don’t actually want anyone to “forget” the Alamo. They do want to call a halt to the ways the story has been misremembered and used to demonize Mexican Americans, indigenous people and others.
Their most explosive contentions are that “the Battle of the Alamo was as much about slavery as the Civil War was about slavery,” and that it “might was well be a Confederate monument in the minds of conservative adherents to the Heroic Anglo Narrative.”
As revisionist as these statements might appear to be, they are standard fare for any decent Alamo book written in the last several decades. But those are fighting words if you are not informed by recent scholarship or just don’t care about facts – in other words, if you’re a Republican politician on the make in Texas.
A couple of weeks ago, more than 300 people were signed up to attend an event at a state history museum focused on the book’s take on history. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick led an attack that caused the event to be canceled.
So much for freedom of thought in the state of Texas. You don’t mess with the Alamo Myth, no matter how big a lie most of it is. In Texas, it appears that the bigger the lie, the more “heroic” it is.
For the record, the full title is Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth. It’s written by Bryan Burrough, Chris Tomlinson and Jason Stanford, Texans all.
They tell the story of the Texas Revolution and the Alamo battle in the book’s first 10 chapters, then devote another 10 to how the story got to be what most of us were taught in grade school and in such movies as John Wayne’s “The Alamo.”
A few more chapters continue the saga of how politicians and historians and preservationists have battled over how to properly manage the site of the 300-year-old Spanish mission that became a fortress and then a cultural shrine with religious implications.
My only complaint with the book is the chapter on the misadventures of British rocker and Alamo buff Phil Collins. I understand why the chapter is included, but I think it’s overlong.
Short take: Ignore the shrill attacks. This is a good book. You don’t have to be an Alamo buff to like it, and you’ll like it –unless you’re predisposed to hate it.