Texas Revolution Basic Reading List
By Charles M. Yates
I've been asked several times to recommend books on the subject of
the Texas Revolution which would be helpful for reënactors and
living historians. In order to present the best historical
interpretations possible, reading about and studying the period are
mandatory. The problem is that in today's hectic world, it's hard to
wade through the abundance of books and articles on the subject
available without some sort of starting place. I should point out that
this is not a list of the only books necessary to read to understand
the period. It is not an ending point; it is a beginning point. A great
deal happened in Texas during the fourth decade of the 19th century and
it is well
to remember that there is no one book or set of books that can give the
a complete and total understanding of the subject. The learning process
neverending. (Ed. note: This list is subject to updates from time to
time; these are listed at the bottom of the page.)
I, also, realize that many fine books have been left off of this
no doubt, one of your favorites is among them. It is not an insult
you or the author that your book isn't on the list, so don't send me
nasty emails before you read the criteria listed below!
The books on the following list have been selected with a specific
set of criteria in mind. The first criteria requirement is that the
list is limited to non-fiction books concerning Texas from, roughly
1830 to 1840. Some of the finest books on this era in Texas history
have been written fairly recently, so it is easy to establish the later
half of the 20th Century as a second criteria requirement. In addition
to these two criteria, the books need to be of general interest,
readable, accurate and provide a variety of perspectives. After all, I
think we've all had enough of the tortuous, dry, boring history taught
in public schools to last us a lifetime. It's time to have our
interests piqued; to question our beliefs and to exercise the ol' gray
matter a little.
Many new discoveries concerning Texas history have been made in recent
years and many more will be made as researchers continue digging
forgotten records and documents. Again, these books are not meant to be
sole or terminating sources on the subject, but as a starting place for
continuing study of our Texian past. Be forewarned, though; history,
Texas history, can become a wonderfully satisfying addiction.
- Number 11: The Alamo Remembered. Tejano Accounts and
Perspectives, by Timothy M. Matovina, 1994, University of
Texas Press. Many times we forget that during the Battle of the Alamo
there were people living in San Antonio. In fact, the population of
Béxar was about 2300 prior to the
onset of hostilities in late 1835. It was a predominately Hispanic
population and most of the population had wisely fled to the
countryside prior to Santa Anna's arrival in 1836. This book is a
compilation of accounts left by some of the people who stayed in San
Antonio during the siege of the Alamo or returned
shortly thereafter. It is a fascinating book and well worth reading.
- Number 10:
The Magnificent Barbarians. Little Told Tales of the Texas Revolution,
by Bill and Marjorie Walraven, 1993, Eakin Press. I want to say "Buy
this book for your kids.", and it would, indeed, be a great book for
them read. The only problem is that it's also a great book for adults.
The "Little Told Tales of the Texas Revolution" are presented as stand
alone essays, so you can literally pick up the book and start reading
anywhere. It is well written and entertaining, but what sets the book
apart is that it's very well researched. The Walravens did their
homework and it shows. I read this book years ago and I still refer to
it's bibliography, every now and then, when doing research.
- Number 9: A Revolution Remembered. The Memoirs and
Selected Correspondence of Juan N. Seguín, edited by
Jesús F. de la Teja. This is a wonderful book to help
understand what the long established Tejano families went through
the turbulent years of 1835 to 1846. The whole story of Juan
is seldom told and this book goes a long way to correcting that. Amazon.com tells us it's Out of Print -
- Number 8:
The Texas Revolutionary Experience: A Political and Social History,
1835-1836, by Paul D. Lack, 1992, Texas A&M University
Press. OK, this is probably the most "academic" book in the list. It is
a bit on the dry side and at times
it will be a little slow for some readers, but it was written to
different perspective of the Texas Revolution. It is also controversial
some places. Lack discusses issues that were being discussed at the
have long since been forgotten. He also provides statistics which alter
traditional view of the revolution, as a whole. If you want a book to
your beliefs and to really exercise the mind, this is it.
- Number 7: Texans in Revolt: The Battle for San Antonio,
1835, by Alwyn Barr 1990, University of Texas Press.
Sometimes we forget that the Texians had to defeat the Mexican military
to get the Alamo in the first place, so that they could defend it
against Santa Anna three months later. This is a wonderful book about
the first major battle of the Texas Revolution and the events that led
up to it.
- Number 6: With Santa Anna in Texas: A Personal Narrative
of the Revolution, by Jose Enrique de la Peña, 1997,
Texas A&M University Press. De la Peña provides us with a
unique view inside Santa Anna's army. He is not hesitant in his praise
or condemnation of his fellow officers and
his analysis of the Texas Campaign. He, also, describes in detail the
of the land and farms as well as the sufferings of the average Mexican
There were many facets to the Texas Revolution and this account helps
a few of the lesser known or visited facets.
- Number 5: The Day of San Jacinto, by Frank X.
Tolbert, 1959, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. Frank Tolbert was a
newspaper man and this book is written as a newspaper man would write
it: as a story. It's well researched and accurate for its time. It's a
first rate, fun read for young people or adults. This book is out of
print, but should be available through any major library.
- Number 4.
A Time to Stand by Walter Lord, 1978, Univ of Nebraska
Press. This is one of the first
of a genre of books written by eminent historians for popular
It broke ground in researching the Siege and Battle of the Alamo and
written in a style that made it immensely popular to the general
Even today, 38 years after it was published, it is still used as a
of Texas History.
- Number 3.
Blood of Noble Men: The Alamo Siege and Battle, by Alan C.
Huffines and Gary S. Zaboly, 1999, Eakin Press. This book is a "must
have" for any study of the Battle of the Alamo. It is a day by day
description of the seige and battle of the Alamo as written by people
who were there. Included are the wonderful drawings of Gary Zaboly and
a wealth of information on dress, equipment and the village of San
Antonio at the time.
Alan and Gary did a bangup job on this book.
- Number 2.
Three Roads to the Alamo, by William C. Davis, 1998, Harper
Collins Publishers. William Davis is
primarily a writer of Civil War books, but he brought his skills as a
and writer to Texas history with stunning affect. Three Roads to the
is a biography of William B Travis, James Bowie and David Crockett and
must read for anyone who is interested in Texas history. Serious
of Texas history will find the notes and bibliography invaluable.
- Number 1. The Texian Iliad, by Stephen L.
Hardin, 1994, University of Texas Press. While Davis' book is a close
second, Hardin's Texian Iliad is the best overall book on the military
aspect of the Texas Revolution ever written. It is not only a
wonderfully written book and wonderfully illustrated by Gary Zaboly,
but is also Dr. Hardin's
dissertation, which attests to it's accuracy. If you could only read
book on Texas history, this is, quite simply, the one. TLA Review
Sic Semper Texanus
As with any list, there are sometimes additions.
Here is where those begin...
- The Alamo Reader by Todd Hansen (Editor)
published by Stackpole Books in September, 2003.
General Rules and Reg.s