The image is graven in my psyche — Davy Crockett swinging his rifle in a brave, last stand against swarming Mexican soldiers at the Alamo. The image came, of course, from Disney’s Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier. As it did for so many kids back in the day, the image lit a spark that kindled to a flame that will not go out until I ride up the long trail.
There is no ground upon which myth and history intersect with more frisson than on the grounds of that old Spanish mission in San Antonio, Texas. My trails have wandered far from that ground, but I once spent many an hour teasing out what can be known of the reality vs. the heroic myth that fed my young passions.
The Alamo story has always carried a lot of political and cultural baggage for whatever time period is engaging with it. For Reconstruction-era Texas, it was a creation myth that sanctified the Anglo-American ascendancy. In the 1950s and ’60s, when Davy Crockett and John Wayne’s The Alamo were filmed and released, the story reflected America’s sense of itself as the defender of outposts of freedom besieged by aspiring tyrants. Now, it’s one more flash point in America’s war with itself over racial identity and politics.
Enter Forget the Alamo.
I will be interested to see how “wise and generous-spirited” the book actually is. The title seems snarky and deliberately provocative to me. I’ve ordered it from the library. We’ll see.
I read and found useful Burrough’s Days of Rage, which was a source for my Running Iron Report essay on the Radical Left of the 1960s-’70s.
I also read his Public Enemies, on the robbers and gangsters of the 1930s Midwest and found it worthy. It served as the foundation for the Michael Mann movie Public Enemies, featuring Johnny Depp as John Dillinger. Like his Last of the Mohicans, Mann was blessed with one helluva soundtrack for that movie…
In the June edition, Texas Monthly has published a lengthy adapted excerpt on a kerfuffle over the authenticity of Phil Collins’ collection of Alamo memorabilia and artifacts.