The Gates of the Alamo
By Stephen Harrigan
(Knopf, Hardcover, 9780679447177, 592pp.)
Publication Date: February 29, 2000
Other Editions of This Title: Mass Market Paperback
A huge, riveting, deeply imagined novel about the siege and fall of the Alamo, an event that formed the consciousness of Texas and that resonates through American history. With its vibrant, unexpected characters and its richness of authentic detail, The Gates of the Alamo is an unforgettable re-creation of a time, a place, and a heroic conflict.
The time is 1835. At the center of a canvas crowded with Mexicans and Americans, with Karankawa and Comanche Indians, with settlers of many nationalities, stand three people whose fortunes quickly become our urgent concern: Edmund McGowan, a naturalist of towering courage and intellect, whose life's work is threatened by the war against Mexico and whose character is tested by his own dangerous pride; Mary Mott, a widowed innkeeper on the Texas coast, a determined and resourceful woman; and her sixteen-year-old son, Terrell, whose first shattering experience with love leads him instead to war, and into the crucible of the Alamo.
As Edmund McGowan and Mary Mott take off in pursuit of Terrell and follow him into the fortress, the powerful but wary attraction between them deepens. And the reader is drawn with them into the harrowing days of the battle itself.
Never before has the fall of the Alamo been portrayed with such immediacy. And for the first time the story is told not just from the perspective of the American defenders but from that of the Mexican attackers as well. We follow Blas Montoya, a sergeant in an elite sharpshooter company, as he fights to keep his men alive not only in the inferno of battle but also during the long forced march north from Mexico proper to Texas. And through the eyes of the ambitious mapmaker Telesforo Villasenor, we witness the cold deliberations of General Santa Anna.
Filled with dramatic scenes, abounding in fictional and historical personalities -- among them James Bowie, David Crockett, and William Travis -- The Gates of the Alamo enfolds us in history, and through its remarkable and passionate storytelling allows us to participate at last in an American legend.
Stephen Harrigan, a longtime writer for Texas Monthly and many other magazines, is the author of the novels Aransas and Jacob's Well. His other books include Water and Light: A Diver's Journey to a Coral Reef and the essay collections A Natural State and Comanche Midnight. He lives in Austin, Texas.