Texas is like a second home state to me and if you have ever been to Texas you know that the battle at the Alamo is a source of great pride for the state. I knew a lot of the myths about the Alamo thanks to popular culture and the feature films I had seen on the subject but I really wanted to learn more about the people and the story behind the battle. The Blood of Heroes fit that bill perfectly.
James Donovan structures his book by looking at the different people from both the Mexican and Texas/American sides that played key roles in the battle. He doesn’t just drop you into the story at the beginning of the siege. He builds tension throughout the book by exploring the political background to the siege as well as the numerous skirmishes that ultimately resulted in Santa Anna mobilizing an army with the expectation of crushing the disorganized Texas resistance. It is stunning how close Texas was of falling permanently back into the hands of Mexico.
The book succeeds because Donovan does such a good job humanizing the figures involved in the siege. By telling the background stories of men like Davy Crockett and James Bowie it helps to strip away some of the legend and see the real men underneath. Ultimately, seeing them with all their warts and failings only makes what they did all the more remarkable. Plus, Donovan does not just look at the major figures everyone knows about but he also tells the stories of many lesser known people as well.
Donovan also spends a good deal of the book looking the major players on the Mexican side. He doesn’t limit himself to just Santa Anna but instead looks at many of his subordinate officers and share their stories. This was a part of the Alamo story I had never heard before and it was fascinating. As a newcomer to Alamo history I had never done any reading about the Mexican side and this book provided a good look at some of the key characters as well as revealing the plight of many of the regular enlisted soldiers as they bore the consequences of their prideful leader.
This book was a fast read and the furthest thing from dry. If you are looking to get a better grasp of this event in American history The Blood of Heroes should be high on your list.