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Lone Star Nation: How a Ragged Army of Volunteers Won the Battle for Texas…
by H.W. Brands
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385507372, Hardcover)H.W. Brands's Lone Star Nation: How a Ragged Army of Volunteers Won the Battle for Texas Independence--and Changed America is not a complete history, but offers a compelling portrait of the key personalities in the war for Texas's independence from Mexico. Brands frames his narrative with two events: Moses Austin's 1820 proposal for an American colony in Texas and Sam Houston's removal in 1861 as governor. Along the way, Lone Star Nation is punctuated by textbook moments, from the battle of the Alamo to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
The strength of Brands's account lies in his tendency towards biography and his talent for rendering dramatic anecdotes. Professor of American History at Texas A&M and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Brands has an attraction to powerful American personalities, as demonstrated by his biographies of Theodore Roosevelt and Benjamin Franklin (T.R. and The First American, respectively). The history of Texas is rife with legendary frontiersmen, and David Crockett, Sam Houston, and James Bowie add color to the narrative built around Stephen Austin, Santa Anna, and a succession of American presidents with expansionist ambitions. When he arrives at the pivotal moments in Texas lore, Brands is apt to follow a singular individual rather than give a broad, battlefield account.
"For better or for worse, Texas was very much like America," Brands declares near the end of his study, reflecting on the abuse of indigenous peoples and the greed of those declaring "Manifest Destiny." He continues: "sooner or later ... democracy corrected its worst mistakes." Despite this sanguine conclusion, Brands omits a balancing account of Indian claims to Texas. The Comanches, "natural anarchists" according to Brands, are sketched in a few short pages, and no Native American shares a voice in the text (partially to be excused for a lack of primary sources). Brands argues, "If the Texans were guilty of theft, the people from whom they sprang were much guiltier." Perhaps true, but Brands's highly readable tale of Texas heroes would be even stronger with a tempering account of the victims of the thievery. --Patrick O’Kelley
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:28 -0400)
Traces Texas's precarious historical journey to statehood, covering such events as its early colonization, the battle at the Alamo, its Native American and Mexican heritage, and its early days as a new republic.
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