A huge, riveting, deeply imagined novel about the siege and fall of the Alamo, an event that formed the consciousness of Texas and that resonates through American history. With its vibrant, unexpected characters and its richness of authentic detail, The Gates of the Alamo is an unforgettable re-creation of a time, a place, and a heroic conflict.
The time is 1835. At the center of a canvas crowded with Mexicans and Americans, with Karankawa and Comanche Indians, with settlers of many nationalities, stand three people whose fortunes quickly become our urgent concern: Edmund McGowan, a naturalist of towering courage and intellect, whose life's work is threatened by the war against Mexico and whose character is tested by his own dangerous pride; Mary Mott, a widowed innkeeper on the Texas coast, a determined and resourceful woman; and her sixteen-year-old son, Terrell, whose first shattering experience with love leads him instead to war, and into the crucible of the Alamo.
As Edmund McGowan and Mary Mott take off in pursuit of Terrell and follow him into the fortress, the powerful but wary attraction between them deepens. And the reader is drawn with them into the harrowing days of the battle itself.
Never before has the fall of the Alamo been portrayed with such immediacy. And for the first time the story is told not just from the perspective of the American defenders but from that of the Mexican attackers as well. We follow Blas Montoya, a sergeant in an elite sharpshooter company, as he fights to keep his men alive not only in the inferno of battle but also during the long forced march north from Mexico proper to Texas. And through the eyes of the ambitious mapmaker Telesforo Villasenor, we witness the cold deliberations of General Santa Anna.
Filled with dramatic scenes, abounding in fictional and historical personalities -- among them James Bowie, David Crockett, and William Travis -- The Gates of the Alamo enfolds us in history, and through its remarkable and passionate storytelling allows us to participate at last in an American legend.
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.
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This may be a fictional history, but the events are told with great detail, and the story then weaves through the history. Harrigan balances the story from Texians (that is how they called themselves at the time) and Mexican viewpoints. With so many myths about the Alamo, he did a great job researching for accuracy. But don't be fooled that this may be boring history, this is a well told story with breathing characters.
Very good fictional story of Texas history.