You’re not seeing double: I did write a Saturday Odds & Sods segment about Forget The Alamo. I’m doubling down and reviewing this terrific tome by Bryan Burrough, Chris Tomlinson, and Jason Stanford; hereinafter BTS, not to be confused with BLT or BTO. They do, however, take care of business.
To some degree Forget The Alamo answers this question: what did the authors do during their COVID lockdown? They used the time productively by grinding away on this book. They knew it would be controversial and it is: the Alamoheads are up in arms over this latest revisionist history. The Alamo myth is important to Texans and Walt Disney, John Wayne, and Lyndon Johnson brought it to the whole damn country.
If they were more self-aware, the Alamoheads would agree with this quote from John Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance:
I put the quote over a picture of the Alamo as an extra twist of the Bowie knife. Everything the Alamoheads believe about what happened in 1836 is a legend. It’s the Texas creation myth that BTS call the Heroic Anglo Narrative.
BTS do an excellent job deflating the Alamo myth. The Texian rebellion against Mexico was not about freedom but about slavery. Mexico had abolished slavery and wanted it gone from the province. Anyone surprised? Everything was about slavery before the War of the Rebellion settled the issue of human bondage but not of white supremacy. It’s still with us like a pernicious tumor that defies eradication.
Tejanos have long viewed the Alamo as a symbol of white supremacy. Their voices are finally being heard despite attempts by Texas Republicans to mute or gag them. Anyone surprised? The Texas GOP is on the wrong and most extreme side of every issue. That goes for their own history as illustrated by Lt. Governor Dan Patrick ordering the state museum to cancel a panel discussion of Forget The Alamo. I guess he forgot he was against cancel culture.
I referred to Forget The Alamo as revisionist history earlier. That’s not exactly so. It’s historiography, which is defined by Merriam-Webster as:
the writing of history based on the critical examination of sources, the selection of particulars from the authentic materials, and the synthesis of particulars into a narrative that will stand the test of critical methods
Historiography is my jam. I love the clash of ideas, facts, and myths. While I’m on the subject I have some historiographic recommendations: Explaining Hitler by Ron Rosenbaum and John Wayne’s America by Garry Wills.
Wills has made a career out of historiography. I wish BTS had relied on Wills’ take on John Wayne’s 1960 cinematic ode to the Alamo myth, which he coupled with the Cold War. Who knew that Santa Ana was a proto-Commie? I always thought he was a shameless opportunist whose redeeming characteristic was loathing slavery.
BTS do an excellent job of explaining the Alamo myth before demolishing it with a flurry of facts and satire. BTS are funny; another reason Forget The Alamo rocks.
It turns out that Genesis drummer turned pop star Phil Collins is a fanatical Alamohead and collector of Alamo artifacts. He’s also an easy mark for unscrupulous dealers peddling spurious objects including Jim Bowie’s “own” Bowie Knife, which appears to date from the 1970’s, not the 1830’s. Collins maintains that it’s genuine after spending $1.5 million on the knife. That makes Collins a walking drummer joke.
As you may have noticed, I loved Forget The Alamo, I give it an Adrastos Grade of A and 4 stars.
The last word goes to Phil Collins with a video that may explain why he’s such an easy mark for Alamo grifters.