The Gates of the Alamo


The Gates of the Alamo is an extremely long novel by Stephen Harrigan. It tells the story of the defeat of the Texian patriots by the army of Mexican General Santa Anna at the Alamo in March 1836. The story is told from the viewpoint of three fictional characters who were involved in the famous siege and battle.

For myself, and I suspect for anyone not raised in Texas, not much is known about the Alamo, other than “Remember the Alamo!” So this book can serve as a lesson in Texas history. While very few Texian rebels actually survived the battle, the Alamo was the decisive factor in establishing Texian independence. In April 1836 the rebels, under the command of Sam Houston, defeated the Mexican army at the Battle of San Jacinto, and drove them out of Texas.

The Gates of the Alamo tells the story of Edmund McGowan, Mary Mott and Terrell Mott.  McGowan is a botanist, hired by the Mexican government to explore and classify the flora of the Texas territory. Mary Mott is a widow who runs an inn in Texas; Terrell is her sixteen-year old son. There are many other characters in this book, including the famous Alamo fighters Jim Bowie, William Travis, and Davy Crockett.

As with any novel based on a historical event, the events themselves are real and in this case are depicted accurately. Of course the personal situations and conversations are pure speculation. But this novel does bring the characters to life. It is quite detailed and thorough. The only complaint I have is that is far too long. The paperback edition is 577 pages. So, be warned.

The Gates of the Alamo is the sixth book I’ve read for the Book Awards Reading Challenge. It was the Spur Award winner for Best Western Novel in 2001. Four to go!

The Gates of the Alamo


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