The culture wars are alive and well, deep in the heart of Texas. The latest battle, which flared up last week, involves the recently published and controversial book, “Forget the Alamo.” The book received fanfare from the expected left-of-center outlets, but the state history museum’s preservation board canceled a promotional event due to what board member and Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick called its “fact-free rewriting of TX history.”
Lost in the back-and-forth about the event is the fact that the book is atrocious history. Perhaps its most lasting contribution is showing just how far the revisionists of Texan and American stories will go — and just how politicized they have made the study of history.
I say that neither as a jingoist nor as a layman. As a historian with a doctorate in American history from the University of Texas, I know the subject of the book well; I have taught U.S. and Texas history to thousands of students.
I am also a kindred spirit with anyone who wants to incorporate into our national and state histories people who have been overlooked. During my academic career, my scholarship focused on enslaved peoples, the slave trade, and the cultural evolution of Africans in America.
In fact, all of my academic publications focused on African American history and culture, bringing enslaved people’s lives to center stage through innovative approaches in analyzing historical records. Suffice it to say, I have a keen interest in historical studies that carefully — and with great balance — provide us with new perspectives.
‘Forget The Alamo’ Is a Historical Scarecrow
Unfortunately, that’s not what Bryan Burrough, Chris Tomlinson, and Jason Stanford do in “Forget the Alamo.” Far more of an anti-Texas polemic than serious history, the book is an utter disappointment.
The key reason is the presence of dozens of “straw man” arguments. The primary example reduces anyone who supports the popular understanding of what occurred at the Alamo to a white supremacist. Consequently, anyone with the gall to question their work (like Patrick did publicly last week) is an “Alamo-head” or “Bible-thumper” who clings to
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