Harrigan, Stephen, “The Gates of the Alamo.” Penguin Books, New York, 2000
Historical fiction about the Texan rebellion against Mexico. I really grew to hate Mister Harrigan with the craven envy peculiar only to cowards. He writes and researches better than I ever will. This book sounds so immediately true, right down to the color of the local flora, that one tends to accept everything in this account as true. But it is fiction after all, as he reminds us in the afterward.
Unlike other Texas fiction, and unlike most Texas “History,” which is also fiction, Harrigan tells both sides with considerable compassion. If I hadn’t already been convinced of the accuracy of this account, I would have been won over just by two phrases on page 575, just two pages short of the ending. Santa Ana, long after the rebellion, is sitting in a New York restaurant and remembering, “…the rapacity of the United States as evidenced by its invasion of Mexico; the slaughter of thousands of innocent civilians by the so-called Texas Rangers…”
Santa Ana, during the time of the rebellion, is painted as a very bad guy. He insisted on executing all the Texas fighting men, no matter how they may have surrendered. But Harrigan is quick to remind us, near the end, that he also fought against French imperialism. And, he was largely responsible for the commercialization of chewing gum.
I’m on KNON’s “Workers Beat” program at 9 AM every Saturday Central Time. They podcast it on Itunes. If you want to know what I really think, check out my personal web site. I have 4 of my own novels there. They aren’t as good as Harrigan, but they’re shorter!