The Gates of the Alamo by Stephen Harrigan

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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.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Stephen Harrigan

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Stephen Harrigan is the author of seven previous books of fiction and nonfiction, including the novels Challenger Park and the New York Times bestseller The Gates of the Alamo. A longtime writer for Texas Monthly and other magazines, he is also an award-winning screenwriter who has written many movies for television. He is a faculty fellow at the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas and a founding member of Capital Area Statues, Inc.

Author Residence: Austin, TX
Published May 1, 2001 by Knopf. 604 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, War. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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A full-dress fictionalization of the historic siege remembered as "the Texas holy of holies," from the veteran Texas Monthly contributor and novelist (Jacob's Well, 1984, etc.).

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of The Gates of the Alamo

Publishers Weekly

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Settling his fictional cast firmly at the heart of 19th-century Texas, novelist Harrigan (Jacob's Well) retells the story of the Alamo with consummate skill, weaving a wealth of historical detail into a tight, moving human drama.

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Historical Novel Society

On a personal level — rather than the significance of events in the historical record — when death comes to someone before his time, it’s a matter of lost opportunity and potential, and that’s what Harrigan’s incidental message is, intentionally or not — and I cannot believe that it is not.

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