Book Review: Sam Houston & The Alamo Avengers

Sam Houston & The Alamo Avengers: The Texas Victory That Changed American History, by Brian Kilmeade

As someone who is rather familiar with the author’s work [1], it is interesting to see how this book simply builds on the author’s other interests. Sam Houston was a protege of Andrew Jackson who was seriously injured serving in Jackson’s army during the Creek war and then used political savvy to build a career before giving it up in disgrace and eventually moving to Texas, where was a foundational figure in the creation of the Texas Republic, a story told here, as well as its entry into the United States to further the aim of slaveholders for increased lands for slave plantations, a matter this book does not discuss in particular detail. Indeed, while the author does deal with matters of secession, where Sam Houston was a unionist in a secessionist area, he does not go into much detail about the importance of slavery to the tensions that ultimately led to tensions between Texas and Mexico, framing Texas as being a miniature United States rather than looking at the reasons for Mexico’s desire to have more control over Texas. If this is the only book you had to tell you about Texan history it would be clearly missing a lot.

This book is between 200 and 250 pages long and is divided into seventeen chapters. The prologue discusses Sam Houston’s injuries at Horseshoe Bend and the lessons in self-preservation he learned from his serious injuries as a young buck. After that the author looks at Houston as Jackson’s protege (1) as well as his subsequent disgrace that led him to go to Texas for a second change like so many others did (2). After that comes a discussion of the beginnings of the Texas War of Independence (3) as well as the initial Texan victory at Conception on the way to San Antonio (4) and the successful Anglo siege of that city (5). This is followed by a discussion of the defenders of the Alamo (6), the twelve days of uncertainty upon Santa Anna’s arrival (7) before San Antonio, as well as the massacre of the fort’s defenders by the Mexican army (8). This is followed by the aftermath of the battle (9), Houston’s hearing of the news of the loss of so many troops (10), as well as the additional massacre at Goliad (11). After that the author talks about the Texan exodus from the path of the Mexican army (12), the assembly of the army under Houston (13), and then the Battle of San Jacinto (14) and its successful aftermath (15). At this point the author talks about the establishment of the Texas Republic (16) as well as the Presidency of Sam Houston in the independent Texan state (17), as well as an epilogue about the founders of Texas (18), and concluding acknowledgements, suggestions for further reading, notes, image credits, and an index.

Despite the shortage of treatment of slavery in the book, this is certainly an enjoyable biographical history that does have compensating virtues. Just as the book nicely dovetails with the author’s interest in writing previously about Andrew Jackson in writing about someone who was an associate nd friend of Jackson’s, the book also has at least two connections with the author’s work on the espionage history of the Secret Six of George Washington. First, the book focuses attention on Sam Houston’s own effective spymaster, man the author (sensibly) agrees should be more famous. And then the author also compares Houston’s Fabian tactics in seeking to preserve his army in the face of superior Mexican numbers until such a time as he could give battle on advantageous terms to the similar efforts that George Washington did in preserving his army from needless effusions of blood. The author makes a strong case for Houston’s logistical approach to war, which nicely adds some reasons as to his appreciation of the logistical strengths of the North, thus making him a Unionist in contrast to his less sound thinking secessionist neighbors. If the book does not point to the issue of slavery and its importance, it at least does refer to matters of interest.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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