LONE STAR NATION: How a Ragged Army of Volunteers Won the Battle for Texas Independence—and Changed America

H. W. Brands, Author
H. W. Brands, Author . Doubleday $29.95 (592p) ISBN 978-0-385-50737-0
Reviewed on: 12/15/2003
Release date: 02/01/2004
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 323 pages - 978-1-4000-9634-3
Compact Disc - 978-0-7393-1013-7
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7393-1012-0
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7393-1038-0
Compact Disc - 978-0-7393-1039-7
Ebook - 608 pages - 978-0-385-50741-7
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Nicely told as it is, this story could have been written 50 years ago. What's frustrating in this telling is that none of the advances in perspective that would make the work attractive to a general and mixed audience today are to be found in it. Brands's book is macho, tub-thumping, narrative Texas history at its old-fashioned best. But that's no longer good enough. Published at the same time, William C. Davis's Lone Star Rising (Forecasts, Nov. 3) has ideas, argument and a point of view. It keeps Mexicans, Mexican-Texans and Anglo-Texans front and center. Brands (The First American, The Age of Gold ), on the other hand, lets chronicle substitute for history and breathlessness for style. The tale of the hard-won struggle for Texan independence from Mexico has inherent dramatic power. In addition to Stephen Austin and Sam Houston, other actors, like William Travis, Jim Bowie and Noah Smithwick, some little known, could excite any movie producer. It's hard to think that the story could be better told—but what's lacking is a theme or perspective, some new way, like Davis's, to relate the story. And was "the victory of Texans the victory for America" when the spread of slavery was one of its consequences? This anachronistic work may prove popular in the Lone Star State. Davis's better work, however, is where the larger, more pertinent history lies. Agent, James Hornfischer. (On sale Feb. 10)

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