Three Roads to the Alamo: The Lives and Fortunes of David Crockett, James Bowie, and William Barret Travis

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Three Roads to the Alamo: The Lives and Fortunes of David Crockett, James Bowie, and William Barret Travis

Author: William C. Davis
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Copyright: 1998
Pages: 816
Cover Price: $ 20.00

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Ever since the day in March 1836 when an obscure Spanish mission in Texas fell to Mexican forces led by President Santa Anna, Americans have been exhorted to "remember the Alamo." And remember it we do--primarily as the place where American folk legends Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, and William Travis met their end fighting for Texas independence. Though it is primarily the Alamo we remember today, the battle itself takes up just a few pages of William C. Davis's Three Roads to the Alamo; Davis is far more interested in what brought three such disparate men as Crockett, Bowie, and Travis to Texas in the first place than in how they died there.

As any schoolchild knows, Davy Crockett was the "king of the wild frontier," a bona fide folk hero in his own time who rode his legend to political office first in Tennessee and then as a United States congressman. Bowie was both less well known and less heroic--a land speculator not above resorting to fraud and forgery to get what he wanted, while William Travis, the youngest of the three, brought little but potential with him to Texas.

Davis does a good job of illuminating both the personalities of his subjects and the situation in which they found themselves in Texas. He thoroughly explores the lives of these three men--their successes, their failures, their hopes for the future--and lays out the arguments for and against Texan independence from Mexico in which they found themselves embroiled. By the time Crockett, Bowie, and Travis finally arrive at the Alamo, it seems the inevitable conclusion to the roads they each have been traveling over the course of their lifetimes. Three Roads to the Alamo is a fine piece of historical research and an entertaining read, as well.

Background Information

After making himself dictator of Mexico, Santa Anna lost Texas in the War for Texas Independence and later much more in the Mexican-American War. The bastion of the Alamo in San Antonio was defended by a small band of Texans against Mexican general Santa Anna during the Texas Revolution. All the defenders died. Popularized as "Davy" Crocket, David Crockett was a pioneer in Tennessee, a Congressman, and a casualty in the defense of the Alamo in the War for Texas Independence. Tennessee represented the western frontier at the time of the Revolution and was a border state in the Confederacy during the Civil War. Texas was a lightly settled part of Mexico after its independence from Spain, and the influx of American settlers led eventually to its separation and American statehood.