Tuesday, August 23, 2022

the last book I ever read (Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth, excerpt two)

from Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth by Bryan Burrough, Chris Tomlinson, and Jason Stanford:

Reaching the capital, Austin had one solid reason for hope: Santa Anna. This is one of Texas history’s great ironies. This, after all, is the man generations of Texas politicians have compared to every loathsome dictator from Adolf Hitler to Saddam Hussein, the Voldemort of Texas schoolchildren’s nightmares, the great Mexican boygeyman, a bloodthirsty killer, a fiendish, mustache-twirling despot guilty of every conceivable crime from mass murder to body odor. Okay, that’s overdoing it. But not by much. If Texans could elect a National Villain, and we’re a little surprised they haven’t tried, it would be Santa Anna hands down. Lee Harvey Oswald couldnt’ve even force a runoff.

Yet few remember today that before Santa Anna was Texas’s enemy, he was its friend. He is a singular figure in Mexican history, a man who held the presidency eleven times in twenty-two years. In person he was nothing special, wavy black hair, sallow complexion, a man of breeding and bearing and unswerving confidence. Despite all the bad movies you’ve seen, he was not flamboyant or a shouter; he was usually the quietest man in the room.

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