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The Blood of Heroes: The 13-Day Struggle for the Alamo--and the Sacrifice That Forged a Nation

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  363 ratings  ·  69 reviews
The gripping and definitive chronicle of the iconic battle that inspired a nation--a sweeping saga of 200 brave Americans who stood tall against an overwhelmingly superior Mexican force.

On February 23, 1836, a Mexican army thousands of soldiers strong attacked a group of roughly 200 Americans holed up in an abandoned mission just east of San Antonio, Texas. For nearly two
Hardcover, 512 pages
Published May 15th 2012 by Little, Brown and Company (first published April 17th 2012)
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Prince Geoffrey: My you chivalric fool. As if the way one fell down mattered.
Prince Richard: When the fall is all there is – it matters…

-- John Castle and Anthony Hopkins in The Lion in Winter

The first time I ever saw the Alamo, I had just consumed a 46 ounce margarita at The Republic of Texas Restaurant on the Riverwalk.

My wife and I had made it to San Antonio earlier in the evening, having started out in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (and with a side-trip to the environs of Houston to see the San J
“The Blood of Heroes; the 13-Day Struggle for the Alamo – And the Sacrifice that Forged a Nation” is the second James Donovan book that I have read. His first, “A Terrible Glory”, dealt with Custer and the Battle of the Little Bighorn and I was not terribly impressed. It was very well written and up to date, but not particularly in-depth or eloquent. I rated "A Terrible Glory" highly however, because I felt that I had been unfairly comparing it to Evan S Connell’s “Son of the Morning Star”, perh ...more
I have stated before in reviews of book on American history that my knowledge is weak on my own country's history. I have always been far more fascinated with Europe's history. I have, though been making an effort to learn more about the events that formed the United States. Most school children know the battle cry, "Remember the Alamo" but how many of them know what went on AT the Alamo? In all honesty no one REALLY knows but Mr. Donovan writes a fascinating and well researched book taking us o ...more
I recently read "A Terrible Glory" (Custer and the Little Big Horn) by James Donovan and was so impressed with it that I immediately went out and bought "The Blood of Heroes". I found it to be an excellent read. I knew the basics of the story of the Alamo, but Donovan's in-depth research and telling the story from the perspective of both the Texians and the Mexicans really brought this struggle to life. As with his Custer book, Donovan manages to build suspense, even though the reader already kn ...more
The book starts off slowly. Donovan spends time outlining the backstory of the major players (Bowie, Travis, Crockett, Santa Anna) and a brief history of Texas and Anglos in Texas up to that point.

Once Santa Anna and his army start their march north, the narrative picks up. Donovan describes battle scenes very well. Even on audio, in the car, with no maps or diagrams to reference, I felt like I had a sense of how the siege and battle played out. Definitely a gripping story. I would sit in my car
John Branney
I have never read a book on the Alamo. I have visited the Alamo several times. I have read magazine articles about the Alamo, and of course, I have seen all of the movies, but I have never read a full length book on the subject. I picked a good book!

The author talks in great detail about the key players at the Alamo, the political environment in both the US and Mexico, the hardships of living in Texas at the time, and the battle strategy and tactics. What I liked most about the book was it did
Derrick Jeter
Legend and myth shroud the thirteen day standoff at Mission San Antonio de Valero, better known as the Alamo. For many popular historians and movie makers the famous line from John Ford’s 1962 movie, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, serves as a guiding light when it comes to the Alamo: “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

Legend and myth has grown thick around the siege and battle that took place in the small Texas village of San Antonio de Béxar, on the distant edge of civilization
Urey Patrick
It is a wider ranging history than the title implies - the battle lasted 12 days, but in the book it barely lasts one chapter. Donovan spends a lot of time relating peripheral information about people who ultimately have some connection to the battle at the Alamo, and events that ultimately lead to the battle - but relatively little text dealing with the battle, although what he does relate is excellent, though limited almost entirely to the final day. He provides a compelling picture of the cha ...more
Raymond Brown
A well written straight forward account of the Fall of the Alamo. I think others have mentioned the use of the narrative style - and I would say that although the captions mention the use of "new" archival material - that there is not really anything new revealed here.

The book makes good use of source material and is up to date with regard to the materials discovered to date. The notes are not really well referenced as they are not noted with numbers to specific passages.

The author presents a se
As a native of San Antonio, Texas, I have always been fascinated by the history of my hometown, and the surrounding areas. As a young child, I had the opportunity to visit the Alamo and the surrounding missions. I'm not sure about other states, but Texans are extremely proud of their history, so I have read and studied about the Battle of the Alamo in school and on my own for many years. Every once in a while, new details emerge, inspiring new versions of the story of the Battle that took place ...more
I wanted to like this book... but I didn't. Born in Texas and lived here most of my life, plus the mandatory Texas History in middle school, I knew that early Texas history was a little chaotic. Okay, okay a lot chaotic. That's the theme of this book although it's very well researched and could have been made into a respectable story. A story about grand adventure, patriotism, heroism, and sacrifice. Instead it's more of a boring text book that magnified the all too human character flaws of hero ...more
Aug 14, 2013 Ryan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Texas history; Alamo fans; Davy Crockett
Shelves: favorites
Get ready for an action-packed wild ride as author James Donovan takes the reader to the vivid battle of the Alamo! Laying the foundation first, Mr. Donovan goes into superb introductory detail with events and circumstances leading up to the massacre in Bexar by expounding on how the Texians got into their dire situation in the first place. By exploring the lives of the three most prominent defenders of the Alamo, David Crockett, William Barret Travis, and James Bowie, the reader gains a better ...more
Well, this isn't as bad as Donovan's Custer book. (Which I feared it would be, when I saw the author, and the similarly poor in style paragraph-length subtitle. [In "A Terrible Glory" Donovan goes back to old time Custer-defending on the amount of discretion he allegedly had in his orders, blaming Reno for many of his problems, etc., while failing to take full account of the latest findings in battlefield ballistic analysis to show that Custer's troopers were shellshocked as soon as they realize ...more
May 29, 2015 Chad rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: war
Very well written, well researched account of the events surrounding the Siege of the Alamo, before, during and after. I appreciated the level of research that had to have gone into this. The afterword discussing the veracity of "the line" and Mr. Rose really show how well the author researched.

The telling is easy to read and really gets going at the point where Santa Anna starts his move northward. Several of the participants are given a decent amount of biographical exposition and it really ad
One of the blurbs on the back says that this "reads fast, like a gallop through South Texas." I think it more like a slow trot on an exhausted horse, which in a way, I think fits it better--there was nothing as fast and straightforward about the revolution as a ride across the plains. Although the title references only the Alamo, the book actually covers from Goliad and Gonzales all the way to San Jacinto, although nothing besides the Alamo is covered in great detail. I learned more about the Al ...more
This is one of the better books I have read on the history of the Alamo and war for Texas Independence. James Donovan does a great job of researching a variety of sources and giving the reader an in-depth look at the Alamo and those that died defending it. I liked this book much better than Donovan's first book, A Terrible Glory, which was a look at Custer's last stand. The one thing I did not like about the book is that I thought it could have used more maps in the book. It would have been usef ...more
Kevin Symmons
As a student of the Battle of the Alamo and a writer who intends to write a novel based on the same I have been reading several works for background information and to add to my knowledge. My all-time favorite is "A Time to Stand" by Walter Lord which I have reviewed earlier. Since most likely only historians, Texas patriots, or competing authors may read this I must say that I found Mr. Donovan's work a little tedious. I felt... and this is a problem I have found with many of the works on this ...more
Jason Gillespie
I loved this book. I've been fascinated by the The Alamo since visiting it as an 11th grader in 1988. Right out the front doors of the church stood a sign that declared this building to be a shrine, please remove all hats.

From then, I've always been interested in the history of Texas and it's struggle to become a republic. This may be the most well researched and detailed telling of the early days of a series of 'iconic' men that helped bring Texas out of the shadows as a Mexican Territory and
Tom Schulte
With a title like "Blood of Heroes", I expected a work playing to the semi-legendary status of the last, hopeless, desperate, and near mythical stand that had the seeming impossible attendance of Bowie, Crocket, and Travis. However, especially the first, dragging half earns the book the dry, detailed title of "A Military History of the Texan War for Independence", or something. However, things pick up when the author "cuts to the chase" for the actual fall of The Alamo, the later massacre at Gol ...more
Dec 25, 2012 Christie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Christie by: Brian Donovan (authors brother)
I'm behind on reading this book but my mom just finished it. This is her review. The Blood of Heroes was excellent! Every kid in Texas has taken Texas history in school and knows the story of the Alamo and the heros but this book tells that story from both sides with facts from extensive research. Loved reading the factual story of the lives of the Heros - not just the legends - and what lead them to the Alamo! The struggle for Texas independence was not pretty but it sure was interesting! If yo ...more
I just came back from San Antonio and a visit to the Alamo so I read this book before departing. The book did an excellent job describing the characters involved in the battle for the Alamo, including the Mexican generals. I also got an appreciation for the difficult terrain that the Mexican army had to traverse to reach Bexar.

The other point the book made was that pretty much everyone was either too rational or too afraid to come and help Travis and the rebels at the Alamo. It really makes the
I recently visited places mentioned in the book (Goliad, Coletto Creek, etc...) and thought it would be a timely read. Unfortunately it is not as engaging as I thought it would be. And surprisingly, the last 120+ pages are actually part of the Appendix!
Every Texan should read this book or download the audio version as I did. Well presented and concise. History enthusiasts will enjoy being reminded of things forgotten from school days.
Glenn Keener
Excellent book leaving you wondering about the "line in the sand" and survivors!
Withou a doubt this is the best book I have ever read about the Alamo. Not only is it an historically accurate account on the campaign, but it is also filled with humanity in all it's aspects from romantic to brutal . A must read for history buffs!
Mike Brown
Jul 04, 2012 Mike Brown rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone with an interest in United States History.
Still early into my journey with this book. I've read other accounts of this time in history but this is the one that from the opening sentence, I've found most interesting detailing the events leading up to the Battle of The Alamo. It has painted a scene(s) in my mind that I had been unable to imagine previously. I've managed to visualize William Travis, James Bowie and several other figures in the story moving about, though Davy Crockett has yet to be introduced. It digs into the mindset and a ...more
Anyone who loves American history will love this book. Great writer. Captivating story.
Brett Hinton
I enjoyed the book. I had heard the story of the Alamo and seen at least one movie (perhaps two) about it. I appreciated the backstory the book provides about many of the pivotal characters in the Battle of the Alamo, especially individuals outside of the big three (Bowie, Crockett and Barrett).

The pace of the narrative moves quickly and rarely bogs down, though I found myself wanting to get to the actual Battle of the Alamo and it seemed that I was nearly to the end of the book when it actually
I loved Donovan's treatment of Custer and how objectively he presented all events and perspectives of all involved to the degree ascertainable. I was therefore very excited to see how he would present something as emotional and often exaggerated as the Alamo. He did not disappoint, hence the rating. Stone who reads this needs to read the afterword setting forth the debate on Travis' line in the sand as it offers a window to the depth of research and insight behind each fact in the book.
Drew Zagorski
An excellent telling of the story of the Alamo, this book offered a great deal of information that I'd not heard or read about before. In particular I enjoyed learning about the post siege events and how the word was spread, the stories of those who survived (and Moses Rose, the only one who chose to leave before the siege), the attack of the Rebels on Santa Anna's army post-Alamo and how Santa Anna fled (more like deserted) from that battle. An outstanding, engaging and eye-opening read!
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James Donovan is the author of the classic illustrated account of Custer's Last Stand, A Terrible Glory, and Custer and the Little Bighorn. He lives in Dallas.
More about James Donovan...
A Terrible Glory: Custer and the Little Bighorn - the Last Great Battle of the American West Custer and Little Bighorn Blood of Heroes Strangers on a Bridge: The Case of Colonel Abel and Francis Gary Powers Waverly Woods Protector

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