Reading, for me, is entertainment and an escape from the real world. But it can also inform and stretch the boundaries of the life I live.
I might have paid more attention if my Texas History lessons had been more like this book. But then, I suppose such a candid examination of the characters and motivations of the real people who created our history would not have been considered suitable subject matter for junior high school students.
Despite its subtitle (The Mexican and U.S. Fight for the Alamo), Duel of Eagles is really about the Texas revolution, covering a period of history from Andrew Jackson’s inauguration in 1829 to Santa Anna’s death in 1876. It could be considered a revisionist history, using original sources that proponents of a heroic Texas origin story may disregard or consider unreliable. Some critics of the book claim the author is pro-Mexican, but it seems to me that he is simply giving equal weight to Mexican sources and doesn’t hesitate to skewer the characters and actions of Mexicans and Tejanos as much as the Anglo-Americans. He notes where there are conflicting accounts of events and provides the reader with 71 pages of footnotes and bibliography to document his sources.
Altogether, it’s an entertaining and horrifying account of the Texas journey from Mexican province to independent republic to annexation into the United States, blowing up myths of heroic deeds and high-minded Texians seeking freedom from oppression along the way. At some point, it got a little wearisome, because, yes, we get it, this was really just a combination of speculative land-grabbing by non-residents and a push to preserve the slave state and part of the precursor to Manifest Destiny, but I started to feel as though we were beating a dead horse by the time Santa Anna surrendered at San Jacinto.
Hardcover, received as a gift from my father in 1994, who was an amateur Texas history buff. And a little surprising that he gifted it to me, as the views of the author don’t seem to fit his. How I wish I had actually read this when he was living, so I could have asked him about it. But history and the Wild West mythos didn’t interest me then, and I forgot I even had this until he passed away in January. Now it’s too late, and I can only read his books and remember him.
2/11/18 – page 11/431
6/3/18 – page 52/431
6/5/18 – page 63/431
6/9/18 – page 93/431
6/9/18 – page 109/431
6/11/18 – page 129/431
6/12/18 – page 151/431
6/12/18 – page 202/431
6/15/18 – page 259/431
6/16/18 – page 267/431