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Stephen Harrigan:
The Gates of the Alamo
Stephen Harrigan
  The Gates of the Alamo  
Stephen Harrigan    
interview

an excerpt



 
Colonel Duque was calling out "To the walls! To the walls, men!" and Loera picked up the exhortation, still waving his sword in the air until a discharge of cannister from the convent yard took off his head and the sword arm along with it, and his one-armed, headless body lurched forward a few steps and fell twitching to the ground.

--from
The Gates of the Alamo
When the Alamo fell in 1835 to the armies of Santa Anna, the defenders of the old Spanish mission were immortalized in American mythology as heroes who sacrificed their own lives so that future generations of Texans--or "Texians" as they were called then--might live free of tyranny. That's the myth, anyway.

Stephen Harrigan's new novel, The Gates of the Alamo, gives a closer and more accurate look at the historical circumstances that brought so many famous personalities--David Crockett, James Bowie, and Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, to name a few--into mighty conflict. It is, in part, an examination of these historical figures, and an explanation of the strategic and tactical considerations that required the Alamo's defenders to perish as they did. But The Gates of the Alamo is also an impressive work of fiction, an imaginative look at human ambivalence behind the folk-tale facade. What towering hopes and shattering disappointments might bring a man, a woman, or a child to the Alamo, to doom? Why would a man choose to fight and die, rather than surrender? Why did no one come to the Alamo's aid?

Harrigan's work is abundant with authentic details of time and place, plausible renderings of historical figures, and starkly violent scenes of battle, but the focus of his novel is on the humanity of his protagonists, the ambitious botanist Edmund McGowan and the courageous widow Mary Mott. Their struggle to love one another in the face of impending doom makes the Alamo's sacrifice seem all the more dear.

In this issue of Bold Type, read an interview with Stephen Harrigan and an excerpt from The Gates of the Alamo.



--Anson Lang
 
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  Photo of Stephen Harrigan copyright © Shannon McIntyre

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