Post by Rich Curilla on May 5, 2014 16:32:37 GMT -5
CREATING TEXAS: A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE REVOLUTION by Jeffrey Dane and Rod Timanus
Here's a new book that I will recommend to anybody interested in a quick-read understanding of the War for Texas Independence, the Alamo, and the key people involved. While not written to present shocking new information or to further debate long-standing issues, it offers a solid narrative of the events as a framework (by Rod Timanus) and excellent biographies (by Jeffrey Dane) of a cross-section of players on this dramatic stage. With a full chapter devoted to each character, this list includes Santa Anna, Houston, Seguin, Crockett, Bowie and Travis, but adds a few surprises with bios on Dilue Rose, Sarah McClure, Deaf Smith and Lorenzo de Zavala. It includes an Introduction by Joseph Musso, a Foreword by J. R. Edmondson and an Afterword by yours truly.
Post by Rich Curilla on Oct 5, 2014 1:51:29 GMT -5
Here is the Afterword I did for Jeffrey Dane and Rod Timanus' book. (Posted with permission.)
By Richard L. Curilla
Unique events, unique heroes, unique historians. You find them all in this superb telling of the Texas tale by Rod Timanus and Jeffrey Dane.
The creation of Anglo Texas cannot be regarded in any way other than unique, and its importance as an enduring story is based on this uniqueness. The American Revolution lasted eight years. The Texas Revolution, with all the same basic stages and dramatic scenes, was won in less than six months. That’s unique.
A cast of characters for the American Revolution would sink the U.S.S. Constitution. A similar cast for the Texas epic is far more concise -- and loaded with extremely colorful personalities. We have been allowed through the talents of these two fine historians to become thoroughly acquainted with these key players and to perceive the events through their particular points of view.
At the heart of the story is the Alamo. Amazingly -- or perhaps not so amazingly -- it has been this event which, over nine generations, has been the life-preserver for the broader epic. While the Texas War of Independence can arguably (and unfairly) be set aside as an Anglo American land grab, an extension of slavery, a plot of President Andrew Jackson’s expansionist movement, etc., the Alamo has taken on a significance far more universal. It has caught on in the public’s mind.
The story of the Alamo is more than movies or art. It is even more than history. It is a continuing and beloved reflection of our nation’s founding values and traditions set in an event which, while actually taking place in Mexican Texas of 1836, was populated by “home folk,” and yet, when viewed in relation to the turbulent history of Mexico after its own War of Independence from Spain in 1821, it takes on the universal characteristics of a stand against oppression. Unlike the Texas Revolution itself, it wasn’t planned, and unlike an earlier popular Texas myth, it wasn’t a death pact.
Ironically, movie star, producer and director John Wayne said this best in a television promotion of his epic 1960 motion picture, The Alamo. “Nobody wants to die, and nobody just decided to be a hero. It has to be forced on you. It was forced on them because they were stuck with ideas like freedom, the rights of the individual and a hatred of dictators.” Wayne’s press release for the movie began with the following statement: “This is the story of the Alamo, a milestone in humanity’s march toward the goal which men in all ages, regardless of race or creed, have striven ever to win -- Freedom.” [Italics mine.] The Alamo story presented in John Wayne’s movie and aimed at an international audience was, in his own publicity, “a symbol of selfless valor” and a story of “uncompromising courage.” These are universal concepts, not political agendas.
Nearly a half century later, when John Lee Hancock wrote and directed The Alamo, (Touchstone’s 2004 multi-million-dollar version of the story) in a much different America, he was quoted by the press as saying, “This is not your father’s Alamo,” and yet, the opening sentence in Touchstone’s publicity release for the film said, “The Alamo is a tale of a handful of men who stood up for what they believed in and made the ultimate sacrifice against an overwhelming force.” My father would have loved it. Universal concept.
This is the story that has mass appeal. A stand against oppression. Every nation in the world that has been ruled or taken over by a dictator can relate to it -- then or now -- and often has had a parallel event in their own history. This is the tale that, again as John Wayne put it, people “will keep on telling forever.”
So the story of the Alamo is important on a world scale, but the fall of the Alamo and the death of its brave garrison was historically also the first major step toward a unified frame of mind that led to the successful Battle of San Jacinto and Texas Independence. Up until the fall of the Alamo, the people of Texas were divided. Some wanted the restoration of the Federal Constitution of 1824 (that President Santa Anna had torn up in order to establish his Centralist despotism). Some wanted Texas to declare its independence from Mexico and establish a republic. Some just wanted to be left alone to till their soil and pretend there was no problem. Each faction had its followers and mouthpieces. Then suddenly, after the shock of the Alamo, everybody had the same goal -- revenge!
Adding to the Alamo’s impact was the subsequent massacre of hundreds of men at Goliad. Within one month, many had lost immediate family as the result of a dictator’s whims. Anglo and Tejano alike finally realized that, as Stephen F. Austin (originally the most peaceful diplomat in Texas) had put it months earlier, “There is no other remedy but to defend our rights, ourselves, and our country by force of arms.” No “half way measures,” but “war in full.” The San Jacinto battle cries of “Remember the Alamo!” and “Remember Goliad!” and the emotions that drove those cries brought about an otherwise impossible victory over a well-trained and formidable enemy.
Messrs. Dane and Timanus have brought this story to us in a unique telling. They have provided a concise historical timeline, yes, but more significantly have populated it with personalities fully developed for the reader in an unparalleled biographical section. They have even thrown in a few ordinary folks to help us feel the events from a ground level instead of only from the lofty perch of heroes. This has allowed us to appreciate these uncommon and colorful individuals and how the events of history are usually an outgrowth of personalities and their influence. I am proud to add this volume to my Texana stacks.
Excellent afterword! I am going to rush out and pick this one up!
By the way - I have a temporary residence in Dutchess County NY. I have made some attempts to locate where Deaf Smith's family resided - but only empty dead ends...I figured I was so close! Oh - well...
Post by loucapitano on Oct 19, 2014 11:37:31 GMT -5
Rich, I found you "Afterword's" one of the most touching tributes to the Texas War of Independence. In a few paragraphs you summed up virtually all the reasons why the Alamo et al, still lives as an international symbol of courage against overwhelming odd in the name of freedom. I commend you for giving Hollywood the credit it deserves for keeping to the spirit of their sacrifice in spite of dramatic license with history. Well done! Lou from Long Island (fully restored from Sandy)
Post by loucapitano on Jan 27, 2015 15:51:01 GMT -5
Rich, I want to ask whether you know anything about a TV movie or mini-series titled "Texas Rising." I think it will be on the History Channel and come out around Memorial Day. The trailers indicate it will be action packed and continue the Texas story after the Alamo. Of course it's been done before. I hope this one does a good job. The History Channel can't always be relied upon for facts over dramatic license. Does anyone know about this TV event?. Were any members of the Forum asked for technical assistance? Lou From Long Island - buried in 25 inches of snow.
Post by Rich Curilla on Feb 3, 2015 0:57:26 GMT -5
Today, I got the word that Jeffrey Dane died in New York after a long bout with anemia. This was crushing news to all in the Alamo family who knew Jeffrey. He was the best -- very supportive of, and encouraging to, his "friends and colleagues."