The Gates of the Alamo

Stephen Harrigan, Author Knopf/Everyman's Library $25 (592p) ISBN 978-0-679-44717-7
Settling his fictional cast firmly at the heart of 19th-century Texas, novelist Harrigan (Jacob's Well) retells the story of the Alamo with consummate skill, weaving a wealth of historical detail into a tight, moving human drama. Mary Mott, honest widow and frontier innkeeper near the Gulf Coast; her 16-year-old son, Terrell; an itinerant, fiercely independent botanist named Edmund McGowan; and a small collection of soldiers in Santa Anna's army are among those whose lives are disrupted as factions within the rebellious Mexican state unite in the common cause of independence. In a serpentine plot that never runs dull, Harrigan traces the growing war fever, beginning in 1835, neatly avoiding political debate by presenting the various arguments plainly from each point of view. When Terrell runs away after an emotionally disturbed girl, who is pregnant with his child, commits suicide, his mother and McGowan follow after him. All three wind up in the Alamo and are caught in the futile and ill-conceived 1836 battle on the outskirts of San Antonio de B xar. Faced with the formidable chore of handling such monumental legends as William Travis, James Bowie, David Crockett, Sam Houston and, of course, Santa Anna, Harrigan takes a judicious middle path, treating them respectfully but not smoothing over their flaws. Strict traditionalists may bridle at the deft ease with which Harrigan manipulates the bloody siege to allow a sentimental conclusion to his novel, and exacting historians may note his glossing of Mexican tactics in the final storming of the old mission, though the gore and guts of 19th-century combat are faithfully rendered. Yet Harrigan has crafted a compulsively readable historical drama on a grand scale, peopled with highly believable frontier personalities--Mexican as well as American--and suffused with period authenticity. 100,000 first printing; 11-city author tour. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
Genre: Fiction
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7887-5319-0
Paperback - 592 pages - 978-0-14-100002-2
Open Ebook - 450 pages - 978-0-375-41274-5
Mass Market Paperbound - 784 pages - 978-0-14-200429-6
Compact Disc - 978-0-375-41560-9
Paperback - 592 pages - 978-0-525-43181-7
Show other formats
Discover what to read next