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Lone Star Nation: How a Ragtag Army of Courageous Volunteers Won the Battle for Texas Independence

Brands, H.W.

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ISBN 10: 0385507372 / ISBN 13: 9780385507370
Published by Doubleday, New York, New York, U.S.A., 2004
Used Condition: Fine Hardcover
From Jim Bowling, Bookseller (Dallas, TX, U.S.A.)

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Lone Star Nation: How a Ragtag Army of ...

Publisher: Doubleday, New York, New York, U.S.A.

Publication Date: 2004

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: First Editon

About this title

Synopsis:

From bestselling historian and long-time Texan H. W. Brands, a richly textured history of one of the most fascinating and colorful eras in U.S. history--the Texas Revolution and the forging of a new America.

"For better or for worse, Texas was very much like America. The people ruled, and little could stop them. If they ignored national boundaries, if they trampled the rights of indigenous peoples and of imported bondsmen, if they waged war for motives that started from base self-interest, all this came with the territory of democracy, a realm inhabited by ordinarily imperfect men and women. The one saving grace of democracy—the one that made all the difference in the end—was that sooner or later, sometimes after a terrible strife, democracy corrected its worst mistakes."
--from Lone Star Nation

Lone Star Nation is the gripping story of Texas's precarious journey to statehood, from its early colonization in the 1820s to the shocking massacres of Texas loyalists at the Alamo and Goliad by the Mexican army, from its rough-and-tumble years as a land overrun by the Comanches to its day of liberation as an upstart republic. H. W. Brands tells the turbulent story of Texas through the eyes of a colorful cast of characters who have become a permanent fixture in the American landscape: Stephen Austin, the state's reluctant founder; Sam Houston, the alcoholic former governor who came to lead the Texas army in its hour of crisis and glory; William Travis, James Bowie, and David Crockett, the unforgettable heroic defenders of the doomed Alamo; Santa Anna, the Mexican generalissimo and dictator whose ruthless tactics galvanized the colonists against him; and the white-haired President Andrew Jackson whose expansionist aspirations loomed large in the background. Beyond these luminaries, Brands unearths the untold stories of the forgotten Texans--the slaves, women, unknown settlers, and children left out of traditional histories--who played crucial roles in Texas’s birth. By turns bloody and heroic, tragic and triumphant, this riveting history of one of our greatest states reads like the most compelling fiction, and further secures H. W. Brands's position as one of the premier American historians.

Review:

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

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