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

3.92  ·  Rating Details  ·  454 Ratings  ·  81 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 January 1st 2012)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,143)
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Apr 26, 2016 Matt rated it really liked it
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
May 31, 2015 Shawn rated it really liked it
“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
Jim Hale
Aug 31, 2015 Jim Hale rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, texas
The Alamo is an oft-told tale and sadly the heroic struggle for independence from a tyrannical dictator has been hijacked by revisionists of the blame America first (or in this case, Texas) variety who feel the necessity to apologize for a greedy "land grab." H.W. Brands did a respectable job in debunking that nonsense in Lone Star Nation: How a Ragged Army of Volunteers Won the Battle for Texas Independence - And Changed America and now James Donovan delivers the knockout punch with an even mor ...more
May 21, 2012 Patty rated it really liked it
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
Sep 24, 2012 Kelley rated it really liked it
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
Robert Melnyk
Dec 04, 2015 Robert Melnyk rated it really liked it
Excellent book on the Battle of The Alamo. I was always a huge Davy Crockett fan growing up as a kid, so this book looked interesting to me :-). Although the book certainly talked about Davy Crockett, it really focused much more on the many other characters involved in this historical event. It also spent a good deal of time explaining the history of what led up to the battle, as well as what happened after the battle. Definite good read for those into American History, especially during that ti ...more
David Orphal
Jan 19, 2016 David Orphal rated it really liked it
Donovan writes a terrific narrative about the Alamo and the immediate aftermath in the independence fight in Texas. Drawing on Mexican sources, he paints a more complete picture of the siege than previous treatments.

Like several history books I've listened to lately, devouring the book in one sitting (I was on a long car ride) makes some of the repetitions in the book glaring. He uses the same quote from Santa Anna in two chapters, and his parallel tales of tracing Santa Anna, Jim Bowie, and Dav
Paul Lunger
Apr 29, 2016 Paul Lunger rated it really liked it
The cry "Remember the Alamo!" is probably one of the most famous battle cries in all of American if not world history. In "The Blood of Heroes: The 13-Day Struggle for the Alamo - and the Sacrifice That Forged a Nation", James Donovan takes we the reader on a journey through the Texas Revolution & through it's most critical moment the fall of the Alamo in San Antonio de Bexar which changed the course of Texas history as well as affecting 2 other nations at the same time. The battle itself do ...more
Apr 28, 2014 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks, history
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
Jun 22, 2014 John Branney rated it really liked it
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
Todd Price
Aug 22, 2015 Todd Price rated it really liked it
Every Texan, and many Americans think they know all about the Alamo. Donovan does an excellent job in attempting to politely, but articulately disabuse them of that notion. Amazingly, I finished this work mere days before the History Channel debuted "Texas Rising" over Memorial Day weekend. "Deaf" Smith was someone I had never heard of prior to reading Donovan's account, but I am glad I read Donovan before watching the History Channel's interpretation. This is an excellent retelling of the oft-e ...more
Jan 31, 2016 Ross rated it it was ok
Okay, I rarely give up on a history book. Mainly because I'm curious about what happens. Since this is a book about one of my favorite things, Texas history, I thought I'd give it a shot.

I found this book to be super chunky in writing style and also very repetitive on back story and character development. I understand you have to establish context but we can remember who characters are and how they got to where they were in the grand scheme of things.

Maybe my tastes are just changing.
Derrick Jeter
Mar 20, 2014 Derrick Jeter rated it really liked it
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
Aug 26, 2012 Raymond Brown rated it really liked it
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
Jun 08, 2012 Ethan rated it really liked it
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
Jul 03, 2012 Randy rated it it was ok
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 it was amazing  ·  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
Aug 04, 2012 Socraticgadfly rated it liked it
Shelves: history
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 really liked it
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
Jun 28, 2012 Rebecca rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
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
Nov 18, 2012 Clint rated it really liked it
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
Sep 08, 2013 Kevin Symmons rated it liked it
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
Aug 12, 2014 Jason Gillespie rated it really liked it
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 it was amazing
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
Mar 13, 2013 Rick rated it liked it
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
Jun 24, 2015 H.S. rated it liked it
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!
Mar 19, 2014 Shellee rated it really liked it
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
Mar 21, 2015 Glenn Keener rated it really liked it
Excellent book leaving you wondering about the "line in the sand" and survivors!
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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.
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