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

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9780060173340: Three Roads to the Alamo: The Lives and Fortunes of David Crockett, James Bowie, and William Barret Travis

Three Roads to the Alamo is the definitive book about the lives of David Crockett, James Bowie and William Barret Travis -- the legendary frontiersmen and fighters who met their destiny at the Alamo in one of the most famous and tragic battles in American history -- and about what really happened in that battle.

William C. Davis, a distinguished Civil War historian and biographer, illuminates the great western migration of the early 19th century through these remarkable figures -- representative of the three distinct types of men responsible for pushing American civilization west of the Mississippi.

Through tremendous research and with unprecedented access to Mexican military archives, Davis strips away the many layers of myth, legend and fable that surrounded Crockett, Bowie and Travis during their lives and, even more emphatically, after their deaths, portraying them as they really were -- heroic and unheroic, of great stature and deeply flawed, law abiding and lawbreaking.

Crockett stood for the thousands who were always on the edge of the wilderness, for whom no home was ever permanent. Bowie epitomized those who invariably followed'the entrepreneurs and exploiters, the men who profited, often outside the law, and moved on to the next potential bonanza. And Travis was the man of community and society, the lawgiver, the town builder, even the founder of a state or nation -- one of the millions who came to stay and create.

Though Travis, Crockett and Bowie came from different backgrounds and began their lives in different parts of the country at different times, they were united by their Scots-Irish heritage; by the restlessness and ambition that kept pushing them west to the frontier, which moved with them; by their involvement in the Texas settlement and revolution; and most famously by their meeting at the crossroads of the Alamo in the swift and deadly battle of March 6, 1836.

Because of their reputations and actions, these three men are deservedly the most legendary heroes of the Alamo. However, Davis has uncovered and reconstructed much of what actually happened, and he frequently challenges or debunks other versions of the battle, which have prevailed for more than a century.

Revealing, persuasive and controversial, Three Roads to the Alamo makes a significant contribution to American history and permanently changes and deepens our understanding and perception of the Alamo and these three American icons.Three Roads to the Alamo is a Main Selection of the History Book Club, an Alternate Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club and an Alternate Selection of the Quality Paperback Book Club

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Review:

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.

About the Author:

William C. Davis is the author or editor of thirty-five books on the civil war and southern history, most recently A Way Through the Wilderness, "A Government of Our Own ": The Making of a Confederacy, and the prizewinning biography Jefferson Davis: The Man and His Hour. For many years a magazine publisher, Davis now divides his time between writing and consulting for book publishers and television.

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