A new book about the Alamo, Exodus from the Alamo, came across my desk. Since its title is so similar to my novel Escape from the Alamo, I dug right into it.
What a disappointment! The author, one Phillip Thomas Tucker, attempts to make the case that the root cause of the Texas Revolution was the defense of slavery. The Alamo battle, he claims, didn’t amount to much, with the cowardly Anglo-Celtic revolutionaries fleeing from the valiant Mexican army. The Mexican general Santa Anna is a hero, protecting his people from the veracious Anglo-Celts. The cowardly Texians fled from the Alamo, with Davy Crockett perhaps staying behind to cover their retreat. As my favorite texter says, "OMG!"
He argues that the early Anglo-Celtic settlers in Texas came there for free land (well, duh!). That they were southerners and intended to grow cotton and therefore needed slaves. Since the Mexican constitution forbade slavery, the Anglo-Celtics started a revolution.
Furthermore, historian Tucker argues that the Anglo-Celtic settlers despised Mexicans and considered them a mongrel race. Since some Mexicans carried African blood, they were no more than Africans themselves. And, he argues, most of the defenders of the Alamo tried to escape and ran away, with the brave Davy Crockett staying behind to cover their flight.
As a used-to-be scientist, I’m familiar with the practice of cherry-picking data to support your hypothesis. It doesn’t get you very far in science; others are quick to correct you (although cherry-picking seems to work quite well in politics).
Tucker’s arguments don’t stand up very well against the scholarship of William Davis (Three Roads to the Alamo) or Stephen Hardin (Texian Iliad). Texas did become a slave state, of course, and Mexicans were sometimes treated poorly in the years of my childhood. Tucker exaggerates things all out of proportion. Politically correct doesn’t make it really correct, does it?
In Time magazine’s book reviews, there are three categories: Read, Skim and Toss. Exodus from the Alamo deserves a fourth category – one noticed in cattle feedlots.