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The Battle of the Alamo by Ben H. Proctor

The Battle of the Alamo by Ben H. Proctor

This 2nd book in TSHA’s (Texas State Historical Association) Fred Rider Cotten Popular History Series (list of the series here) starts on December 4, 1835, with Ben Milam challenging the Texas rag tag army to attack the Mexican army under General Cos that was entrenched in San Antonio. The Texans pushed the Mexican army across the San Antonio River, leading Cos to negotiate terms to leave Texas forever.

But obviously that is not the end of the story. Ben Proctor’s concise but thorough history describes the build up, the battle and the aftermath. As with the other books in this series, the included black and white images and references are superb.

The Texas revolutionaries, appealing to words and ideas that inspired Americans, spread the word of Mexican oppression, causing a flood of volunteers from all parts of the young country. Proctor gives a good background on this, including a brief bio of Jim Bowie, sent to destroy the Alamo but partnering with Col. James Neill in declaring “we would rather die in these ditches than give them to the enemy.”

The arrival of William Barret Travis on February 3 and Davy Crockett on February 8 completed the legendary triumvirate. Proctor describes each, including the rivalry between Travis and Bowie, resolved ultimately through Bowie’s ongoing illness. He then moves to describe Santa Anna, bent on making a statement after Cos’ defeat. The description of Santa Anna’s army, including Mayan conscripts who did not speak Spanish, and the harsh march from Mexico to San Antonio, is particularly well written.

The commanders of the Alamo were surprised at the size of Santa Anna’s force, and set several legendary requests for aid. But, after many days of siege, cannon fire and nightly bugle calls, on March 6 the fort was breached, it’s defenders killed.

The Battle of the Alamo has 9 excellent black and white images, and is 40 pages in the print edition. This review is of the Kindle edition.

Texas Popular History Series

We’ve been working with the good folks at the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), publishers of the Texas Almanac, to convert an excellent series of 19 popular history books. This series, the Fred Rider Cotten Popular History series, features books about different places and events in Texas’ rich history. Each book is well documented and footnoted, with great pictures. They range between 40 to 144 pages, and they are extremely affordable on the Kindle at $4.99 each. They are also available in bundles (cleverly named “Cotten Bales”, get it?) of like topics.

The series chronicles:

  • Six historical battles (Alamo, San Jacinto, Goliad, Texas/Mexican War and two books on Texas in the Civil War);
  • The history of five cities/places (Austin, Dallas, Ft. Worth, Galveston and McKinney Falls);
  • Four historic houses and the people who occupied them;
  • Four Forts, and their impact on Texas History.

A more detailed list is in the table below. I’ll post reviews of each one (look for titles with underlines) and links to the Kindle versions via the covers (clickable) in the table below as they become available for Kindle.

COVERTitleAuthorYear PublishedPgs Print Edition
The Old Stone FortMcDonald, Archie197148
The Battle of the Alamo"Proctor, Ben H.198640
The Battle of San JacintoHarfertepe, Kenneth198964
A History of the French Legation in Texas",Pohl, James W.198956
A History of Aston VillaHarfertepe, Kenneth199168
The McFaddin-Ward HouseFoy, Jessica and Linsley, Judith Walker199272
The Samuel May Williams HomeHenson, Margaret Swett199252
Remember GoliadRoell, Craig H.1994100
Fort DavisWooster, Robert199458
Austin: A History of the Capital CityHumphrey, David C.199784

Dallas: A History of "Big D"Hazel, Michael V.199780
Fort LancasterFrancell, Lawrence J.199676
Civil War TexasWooster, Ralph A.199988
McKinney FallsHenson, Margaret Swett199964
Galveston: A History and GuideMcComb, David G.200068
", war-by-charles-m-robinson-iii/\"">Texas and the Mexican WarRobinson, Charles M. III2004117

Fort Worth: A Texas OriginalSelcer, Richard F2004144
Fort ConchoMatthews, James T.2005100

Sacred MemoriesMcMichael, Kelly2009128
Galveston History Seriescombines Galveston, Ashton Villa and Samuel May Williams Home eBooks2010
Austin History Seriescombines Austin, French Legation and McKinney Falls eBooks2010
Battles of the Texas Revolution Seriescombines The Battle of San Jacinto, Battle of the Alamo, and Remember Goliad eBooks2010
Texas Cities History Seriescombines Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth and Galveston eBooks2011

The Sargasso Ogre (Doc Savage #18)

This is the eighth story originally published by Street and Smith. The Bantam one I have is one of the first Doc Savage books I remember reading, bought from a now closed bookstore on Long Point in Houston.docsavagesargassoogre

The Sargasso Ogre picks up where The Lost Oasis ended, with Doc and his crew in Alexandria, Egypt, about to board a liner to take them and the diamonds they obtained in The Lost Oasis back to New York. An attempt is made on Long Tom’s life. Doc rescues him, but cannot question the kidnappers as they are killed by those who hired them. Doc and his time board the liner Cameronic, with the diamonds (as well as other valuables) under heavy guard. An article in the Alexandria newspaper about a bank clerk found missing gives Doc clues about the chaos ahead.

While at sea, many suspicious events lead to a search for a large man named Bruze, and to the poisoning of Monk and Ham (who Doc brings back from the dead). The radio is sabotaged, the ship is set of course as the captain is unknowingly held hostage and Bruze and his crew of forty men eventually try to take over the ship. They are stopped, but not before the permanently damage the engines.  The ship has been aimed toward the Sargasso Sea, when Bruze (the Sargasso Ogre) and his men have hijacked and abandoned several ships.  Bruze has a headquarters in the mass of ships and seaweed that make up the Sargasso Sea. Hiding there as well on a ship are a bevy of beauties (led by Kina le Forge) who have barricaded themselves in the ship that was once Bruze’s treasure ship.

Several battles ensue, with Doc matching his strength against Bruze, ultimately rescuing all of the stranded survivors and finding the secret way out (I won’t spoil the ending!).

My sortable table of Doc Savage books is here.

  • Written by: Lester Dent
  • Villain: The Sargasso Ogre
  • Doc Gadget: skiffs crafted with cutters on the front to make going through the thick seaweed possible
  • Doc Feat: swimming through the thick seaweed of the Sargasso Sea with a knife to cut his way through; running through the maze of flotsam
  • Exotic locale: Egypt, and the Sargasso Sea, an area in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean
  • By the numbers: originally published October 1933; Bantam #18 published July 1967; Philip Jose Farmer dated Septmber 1931
Water from Stone: The Story of Selah, Bamberger Ranch Preserve by Jeffrey Greene

Water from Stone: The Story of Selah, Bamberger Ranch Preserve by Jeffrey Greene

San Antonio, where I went to high school and college, sits atop the Edwards Aquifer, the underground water source for most of the surrounding area. Though we never went into drought conditions, water rationing was common and still is today, with car washing and yard watering monitored and banned during tight water times.

Water from Stone describes a land reclamation project in Blanco County, which provides a path for land and water reclamation for not only the Texas Hill Country but other areas of the world as well. The story of the force behind this effort, J. David Bamberger, co-founder of Church’s Fried Chicken (also a San Antonio hometown product!) is intertwined with a description of the Selah Ranch where the reclamation project has been put into action over many years and several thousand acres.

The ranch sits on several thousand acres in Blanco County, west of Austin and north of San Antonio. Described multiple times in the book as the worst parcel of land in Texas, the book contains (more…)

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