Eyewitness to the Alamo

Eyewitness to the Alamo by Bill Groneman (Lone Star Publications, June 1, 2001, 288 pages)

Biography or Autobiography?

Which of these is likely to be more historically accurate, biography or autobiography? One is an individual’s personal account of their life and times. The other, an outsiders attempt at impartiality and objectivity about their subject. The autobiographer may choose to omit certain aspects of their lives for one reason or another, whereas the biographer may include those same items from the perspective of a neutral observer in the interest of painting a more complete portrait.

But what happens if there were no one left to tell the tale? How then do we know what happened, the real chain of events, the emotions, the bravery or heroism, the actual story? Such is the case with epic moments in history such as the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876. Now, a century and one half later later, many of the details have been agreed upon, yet many remain unknown.

This is also true of the 13-day siege of the Alamo that occurred from February 23 to March 6, 1836.

In both instances, were they alive, the survivors, whether victors or vanquished, of these battles could offer much insight and recollections of the battle, but less or nothing about the events happening beforehand or the discussions, meetings, and planning behind the lines of their opponents. In fact, part of the alluring and enduring fascination of these moments in our nation’s history is the unanswered and unanswerable questions of what really happened. To shed light on the events surrounding the fall of the Alamo, author Bill Groneman takes the approach of telling the story through both the correspondence of the main combatants as well as interviews and published recollections of participants. Groneman further annotates each item of correspondence or recollection to either corroborate or offer a disproving theory as to its veracity.

Still, Groneman allows the reader to ultimately come to their own conclusions as to the actual fall of historic legends at the Alamo, like Davey Crockett and Jim Bowie and the moment victory was declared for the invading army.

Looking at the Alamo from the perspective Groneman provides, gives the reader a chance to make up their own mind and maybe decide to delve even further into the topic to see if they cannot truly discern for themselves the fate of the Alamo and those within.

Book review provided by Wayne B Marek.
Marek is a musician and bibliophile. In addition to two decades spent building a personal library, Wayne reads and writes regularly on topics of history, public policy, and leadership.

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