Passionate Nation: The Epic History of Texas

passionate-nationProbably because he also writes novels, Haley gives us the opposite of a stodgy textbook history of the Lone Star State.

Best of all, he is candid. He doesn’t pussyfoot around Tonkawa Indian cannibalism nor does he excuse the sadism of Comanche torture. Haley is best when discussing the Texas Revolution, dominated by Sam Houston, for he wrote a biography of Houston that won many awards. Haley firmly establishes the real reason for Houston’s long retreat from Santa Anna. It was strategic; he was luring the Mexican Army to the Louisiana border, where the U.S. Army was ready to intervene in aid of the Texans. By a fluke, this trap turned out to be unnecessary. Santa Anna not only over-extended his supply and communication lines, he also foolishly divided his command. He was forced to meet Houston at a time and place of the latter’s choosing, which made it unnecessary to lure him any farther than San Jacinto. —Richard H. Dillon

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